September was a helluva month for the war in Afghanistan.
The Taliban, more powerful than at any time since the U.S.-led post-9/11 invasion, continued to make headway as a major offensive stalled. Afghan President Karzai finally made good on a promise to open formal contacts with the Taliban, but the panel he named to expedite that is dominated by foes of the Taliban. It was revealed that soldiers in a U.S. platoon killed Afghan civilians for sport. And in the coup d'grace to a month from hell, Pakistan closed the most important border crossing for trucks supplying NATO-led coalition troops in Afghanistan in retaliation for an attack by coalition helicopters on a Pakistani security post.
As has been evident for some time, the heart of the problem is that no one knows whether the strategy delineated by President Obama in the spring will work, while there is no Plan B in the likelihood that Plan A -- more troops, smarter counterinsurgency efforts and more national building -- fails to turn a tide running against stabilizing a vast country.
Thinking outside the box is the flavor of the moment for some war analysts, but bringing in people with an intimate knowledge of Afghanistan to suggest alternatives to the struggling strategy that General David Petraeus has been charged with executing will not change the reality that Afghanistan, besides being really big, is ungovernable and deeply corrupt.
And partitioning the country, an idea that was in vogue in Iraq as the civil war there raged on and has now taken hold among some Afghanistan analysts, would be nothing more than window dressing.
In any event, a war that George Bush botched by shifting the focus to Iraq, is now inextricably Obama's, and with every passing day it become more obvious that he should have scaled back U.S. involvement. Or cut and run.