I recently speculated,
I suspect that Obama will order an approach that he believes will improve the situation in Afghanistan, but with the idea of wrapping up major military operations by mid-2011. At that time he can begin withdrawing troops without fear of a Najibullah-type collapse of the Karzai government before the election. His Republican opponent will have to decide if he wants to run on a platform of re-escalating and perpetuating the war, or effectively endorsing Obama's policies - and I suspect that in a national election there's a lot more danger to a politician who does the former.Early excerpts from President Obama's speech confirm,
Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.I wouldn't go so far as calling it the "easier option", let alone a "tragic mistake". The tragedy will be if, even with another two years, we're still looking at "Taliban lite" as an "acceptable" outcome. Further, few people (and fewer Obama supporters) are going to be happy with the policy. But just as it wasn't difficult to anticipate a policy that is timed around the election cycle, even if the decision proves to be correct, it's not unfair to view it as something of a cop-out, or at least as being politically safe.