Previous post addresses governance in Afghanistan, something that everybody has been admitting has been going poorly. In my trip in December 2007 and everywhere else, I have consistently heard that the training of the Afghan National Army is going well. Yeah, ok. Not so much. This is bad news--counter-insurgency works best if done by the locals, but if the locals are making little progress, then that is bad news. Of course, this takes time, and the international community has only gotten serious about doing COIN and building the ANA since perhaps 2006 or 2007---only a couple of years. If we can put in another ten years, then perhaps enough progress will be made.
But, do we have that kind of time? Canada does not; the Dutch do not. The US, despite all of the gnashing of teeth about this being Obama's war, probably does have that kind of time. 9/11==Pearl Harbor. That makes all the difference in the world. Still, there is a need to demonstrate progress, hence the concern about metrics. Making this theatre THE show in US foreign and defense policy is the right move since this is the priority and it does have domestic support. It does raise the stakes, which is actually a good thing as that will concentrate the minds of the folks in the Pentagon and elsewhere.
But our eyes must remain open so that we can see where we are going and what we have left to do.