Half-measures have been the American way of war since the conclusion of World War 2., The president's latest move, to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan is based on little more than political calculations, and bad ones at that. Is there anyone who seriously believes the situation in Afghanistan is so improved that we can reasonably start pulling out troops? Does anyone really think the incredibly corrupt and incompetent Karzai government and Afghan military are ready to start taking over their own war effort any time in the foreseeable future? Is there any question that we will have to keep troops in Afghanistan indefinitely unless we drastically change our strategic objectives?
In my opinion this withdrawal has two main political calculations. First, by starting limited withdrawals, Obama is offering the pretense that our efforts have achieved such success that we need less troops in Afghanistan. In other words, he wants to be able to claim successful prosecution of the war. Second, he wants the American people -- a majority of whom are sick of the Afghanistan War -- to see withdrawals in the hope that they believe he is winding the war down. I'd be willing to bet that very few people, at least among those paying attention, are buying either of those propositions.