Mr. Obama has also sometimes failed to project resolve, despite his strong decision-making on the war. His policies have been firmer than his words. In announcing his decision to increase troops a second time at West Point on Dec. 1, 2009, Mr. Obama also pledged to begin removing U.S. forces from Afghanistan by July 2011. By itself, a plan to make any additional foreign military buildup in Afghanistan temporary should not have raised too many eyebrows; after all, President George W. Bush did much the same thing with the surge in Iraq. But Mr. Obama seemed to be promising a fairly rapid end to the war overall — and that seemed to be the message he wanted Congress and the American people, especially the anti-war base of his own party, to hear. Well aware of the nation's war fatigue, well aware of the analogies drawn between his war effort in Afghanistan and Lyndon Johnson's in Vietnam, Mr. Obama tried to have it all: being muscular enough to create a chance to succeed while hedging his bets and trying to keep the country's political left supportive at the same time. He took a similar approach last June, in announcing a faster initial troop drawdown than Gen. David Petraeus had favored. This somewhat mixed effort, even if useful for handling domestic criticism of the war at home, has probably contributed unhelpfully to hedging behavior among many Afghans and Pakistanis.