Bush thought that once he'd toppled the Taliban and Hussein regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, democratic nation-states would just emerge. Nation-building has proved to be a little more complicated.
I'm not clear that Obama appreciates the difficulty of nation-building either. Given the state of the state in Afghanistan, it seems to me that we have two choices: stay for a generation and massively subsidize education and development to build something akin to a modern nation-state or essentially withdraw from the country and contain its military threat. I think those are wretched choices, but building roads or securing check points into major cities for a year is not the same thing as building a nation or securing its people. Nation-building isn't measured in months but in decades. It has as much to do with reconstructing the minds of people as their towns.
And yet Obama is going to send in a surge of 30,000 more troops but only for one year. Because that is all that Bush got wrong; he was just short by tens of thousands of troops and 10 to 12 months.
It's not even obvious to me that Obama is all that sold on his own plan. His speech lacked the snap of his campaign speeches, sounding like lots of blah blah blah. (Is there a rule that when you send troops to war you talk in platitudes sure to reverse the adrenalin rush of war?) It wasn't obvious to me that he owned this speech.
This is like projecting deficit reduction after this year of deficit increase. I simply don't see how 30,000 troops will change things so much over the course of a year that withdrawal will be any easier. How is war like snorting heroin? It's terribly destructive but hard to quit. Next year at this time, expect a mid-course correction from Obama. Something about the need to keep troops in country just 6 (or 12) more months.