George Will calls for withdrawing ground forces from Afghanistan and using drones, cruise missiles, air strikes, and special forces units to focus from offshore on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Bill Kristol replies that this is a recipe for "retreat" and "defeat."
I'm not sure either one of them has it quite right, although Kristol, as usual, manages to sound obnoxious even when he's making arguments that don't have to sound that way. Will should have mentioned that the U.S. is already using drones in the Pakistan border regions, and while arguably this has had some results in eliminating elements of the Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership (e.g. Baitalluh Mehsud; Usama al-Kini), the strikes have also caused civilian casualties, weakening support for the U.S. among the population. On the other hand, I share Will's distress at the rising U.S. casualties -- and, I would add, casualties in the ISAF forces from the other countries in the coalition. There comes a point at which such sacrifices can no longer be justified.
I don't know whether we are at that point. Stephen Biddle offers a depressing assessment in a recent article in The American Interest. He writes that "the strategic case for waging war is stronger than that for disengaging, but not by much: The war is a close call on the merits." Both reinforcement and withdrawal can be legitimately criticized, he says, and while he favors the former "on balance," he sees "no easy way out of Afghanistan, no clear light at either end of the tunnel, for President Obama."