Foreign policy realists question whether any effort in Afghanistan can succeed. Possibly they are right. The interventionists, if I may call them that, suggest the realists are being unrealistic -- that Afghanistan matters and it matters much more than Iraq or, before that, Vietnam ever did and that we can prevail. Possibly they are right.
But the ultimate in realism is for the president to gauge himself and who he is: Does he have the stomach and commitment for what is likely to continue to be an unpopular war? Will he send additional troops, but hedge by not sending enough -- so that the dying will be in vain? What does he believe, and will he ask Americans to die for it? Only he knows the answers to these questions. But based on his zigzagging so far and the suggestion from the Copenhagen trip that the somber seriousness of the presidency has yet to sink in, we have reason to wonder.