General David Petraeus is back from Afghanistan this week, making the rounds in New York and Washington and trying "to convince an increasingly skeptical public that the American-led coalition can still succeed here despite months of setbacks." Well, good for him; nice that somebody still thinks a decent outcome is possible. But it seems a bit premature to worry now about next summer's proposed withdrawal deadline. Petraeus has a whole year to work with, and if he can't improve the situation in a year, why should we think it can be improved in two years or three or ten? A year is a fairly long time in military terms, after all. He should fly back to Kabul and get to work. If, come next spring, things really are looking up, I might be persuaded to support another extension of our longest war.
Tom Friedman, writing about Iraq, said so many times that "the next six months will be crucial" that people started joking about "Friedman units." General, you have two Friedman units to work with, and if you want more time and money, you had better make them crucial.