Obama's Af-Pak Speech: The Dread Mounts

Ambers previews it:

His speech, as described in broad terms by advisers last week, will be short and serious. His challenge is to persuade Americans that the war in Afghanistan is winnable, as Americans tend to give their presidents significant leeway so long as they believe that the president is confident in his strategy.  Officials said last week that while he would outline a clear exit strategy, he would not tie troop withdrawals to any specific political developments in Afghanistan, which might run into opposition from Democrats in Congress, who are demanding benchmarks. Nor is the President likely to impose direct conditions on Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

I'm going to give the speech a chance. It's a very difficult situation, and, after Bush's grotesque mismanagement, no options are anything but varieties of awful. But everything I hear sounds like conventional drift to me - Bush's policy with a much more interesting and intelligent discussion beforehand. So instead of staying in neo-colonial occupation against an insurgency that now feeds off US intervention with no real strategy, we will stay in neo-colonial occupation against an insurgency that now feeds off US intervention with lots of super-smart defenses of the indefensible. Great. Marc Lynch isn't so thrilled either:

I'm impressed that [Obama's] team seems to have given serious thought to the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the legitimacy of the Karzai government, the lessons of the Soviet experience, how to pre-empt future demands for more troops, how to maximize leverage, and how to craft an exit strategy.  It doesn't mean that they'll get the policy right -- or even that there's a right policy to find.  I predicted weeks ago that the result of the strategy review would be a decision to add 30,000 or so troops, it wouldn't work, hawkish critics would give Obama no credit for the decision, and next year we could have the whole argument over again.  Here's to hoping that Obama's speech...proves me wrong.