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LONDON — It couldn’t have taken three months to write the speech that President Barack Obama gave at West Point last week (Dec. 1), but clearly much thought went into his decision to send 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan. Some aspects of his strategy even suggest that he understands how little is really at stake there for the United States.

This is despite the fact that his speech is full of assertions that al-Qaida needs Afghanistan as a base. That is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of terrorist operations, but it permeates American thinking on the subject. Even if Obama knows better himself, he cannot hope to disabuse his fellow Americans of that delusion in the time available.

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