“Obama’s lonely decision” may have been the right one — if that’s really what he decided, if he really did decide. That’s the problem. You don’t know with this guy. What he does is so often unrelated to what he says that it’s usually most productive to watch what he does and ignore what he says. Kagan makes the classic error of evaluating Obama based on words. I don’t think we’ll be able to evaluate Obama’s handling of Afghanistan until we see how he follows through on his speech. That will take some time. All we can say now is that he avoided the issue for months while our position in Afghanistan deteriorated, and then when backed against a political wall finally asserted a policy. Only time will tell if he means what he said. The optimistic interpretation — Kagan’s — is that political pressure not to screw up will keep him honest. I’m skeptical. Obama’s history is that of a man who believes he can talk his way out of anything and has succeeded so far. Why would he behave differently now? He might — people can change. But that’s not the way to bet.
One of the problems with being a liar is that nobody believes you when you tell the truth. I hope that Obama really does show backbone in Afghanistan and commits to victory, but he’ll have to act like it (not merely talk like it) before reasonable people will believe him.