Based on published reports of how the administration wants President Obama's new Afghan policy to be interpreted, it seems likely that the President will emphasize accountability, benchmarks and the rebuilding of civil society. Counterterrorism will be the mission -- the goal to which all means are focused, and counterinsurgency will be the main tactic. Less clear is what counterinsurgency, Afghan-style, entails. Clear and hold? Maybe. But the administration seems to be keener on using its resources to build up Afghanistan's army, policy and bureaucracy, rather than use troops to protect Afghans from the Taliban.
Marc Ambinder is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.