Paul Greenberg

What do you think it's like just now to be a GI somewhere at the end of the earth, say in mountainous Nuristan in eastern Afghanistan, and see the latest video of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid addressing the press outside the White House, just having left still another strategy session on this endless war?

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Is it like being a grunt in Vietnam back in the chaotic Sixties and reading about the Best and Brightest urging another escalation?

Or is it more like being a member of the Chosin Frozen advancing in a different direction, that is, retreating down the Korean Peninsula in what we now call the Forgotten War?

Maybe it's like being a trooper a couple of years ago in Iraq. Remember when everything was falling apart there every day? And all the braid-covered generals were advising a hapless president to keep doing the same futile thing in hopes of achieving a different result?

Over the weekend, still another outpost was attacked in the distant reaches of Afghanistan, and still more American soldiers -- and Afghan ones -- were lost. An undermanned and overstretched international force struggles on in that graveyard of empires. And waits for word from Washington. And waits and waits.

Barack Obama had sounded so determined to win that war -- his war, the one he called the right war -- when he took the oath of office as president (and commander-in-chief) early this year. How long ago that now seems.

You don't hear that kind of talk from the Oval Office these days. Its occupant has fallen silent on the subject of Afghanistan. Even while everyone around him talks, talks, talks. His press secretary says the country has no option but to stay in Afghanistan. The isolationists, whom we will always have with us, say the only realistic option is to leave.

The word is that the president is now undecided about how decided to be about this war. But the Taliban are decided. That much is clear with every casualty report.

"It is important that we take our time to do all we can to get this right," says Robert Gates, our own Talleyrand, for he stays secretary of defense while presidents change. "In this process," he tells the press, "it is imperative that all of us talking part in these deliberations -- civilians and military alike -- provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately."

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.