Calling the tainted election outcome in Afghanistan the "worst outcome" imaginable, counterinsurgency expert and Afghanistan vet Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security warns:
When people look back on the Afghanistan war, this might be the moment when historians will judge we should have cut the cord on the Afghan government. If we believe Generals McChrystal and Petraeus, and we believe a counterinsurgency campaign to represent our best chance of success in Afghanistan, then we have a big problem. Because if we believe what we ourselves have learned about counterinsurgency campaigns, we understand that we cannot be successful in one if the host nation government is seen as increasingly illegitimate -- and that's what the Karzai government is.
Exum maintains that the national security stakes for the U.S. mean that withdrawal "is not an option," but recent effects are clearly testing his faith. It would be a very grim indiactor for the Obama team should they lose Exum's support in the weeks and months ahead.