Yes, yes, to fight the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. But eight years later, American blood and treasure are still being poured into a country of dirt-poor, illiterate people who support themselves by growing poppy for opium and heroin under one of the most corrupt governments in the world.
As Barack Obama makes a midnight visit to honor the incoming dead and console their families, critics may sneer at his theatricality, but the President seems to be trying to clear his head and heart of the numbers and jargon that have dominated months of discussion about whether or not to send up to44,000 more troops to do what those who are now dying there in record numbers have been unable to do.
During the Bush years, despite pockets of fierce opposition, the American mindset was dominated by a Neo-Con vision, unleashed by the trauma of 9/11, of a superpower with "a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity."
That led us into Afghanistan and then Iraq, where the blood still flows in factional fighting, and now the pressure persists on a President elected with a far different vision to stay on that course at the risk of being accused of dithering and defeatism.
At home on the economy, Barack Obama has been forced into pushing for Change on an unprecedented, unsettling scale, but polling shows the American people slowly overcoming their doubts.
How would they react to a daring Change in foreign policy? What would happen if, instead of escalating troop levels, the US took a different approach? Tom Friedman suggests one possibility:
"Yes, the morning after we shrink down in Afghanistan, the Taliban will celebrate, Pakistan will quake and bin Laden will issue an exultant video.
"And the morning after the morning after, the Taliban factions will start fighting each other, the Pakistani Army will have to destroy their Taliban, or be destroyed by them, Afghanistan’s warlords will carve up the country, and, if bin Laden comes out of his cave, he’ll get zapped by a drone."
This may be as wishful as the Neo-Con faith in nation-building in Afghanistan and Pakistan that has cost Americans so much and produced so little, but it deserves as serious consideration as what Friedman describes as the result of their alternative: "China, Russia and Al Qaeda all love the idea of America doing a long, slow bleed in Afghanistan."
Those are the choices Obama is facing.