Fred Kaplan's optimistic scenario:
Obama's actions, and even more his announcement of the actions, will make it harder for U.S. and Afghan troops to stave off the Taliban militarily and to win over the Afghan people politically. But it may also send a message to Karzai that he really does have to get serious about reform. And, it may send a message to Afghanistan's neighbors that they really do have to start playing an active role in helping to stabilize the country—or else risk the stability of their whole region. All along, officials from Obama, Gates, Clinton, and Petraeus on down have said that these kinds of wars tend to end not with a military victory but with a political settlement. If Obama couples his military drawdown with a surge in diplomacy pressure, this may all turn out for the best.