Britain’s top diplomat in Kabul thinks Afghanistan is crumbling so fast, said Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff in Newsweek, that it might take an “acceptable dictator” to keep it out of the hands of extremists. The assessment, revealed in a leaked diplomatic cable published in a French newspaper, “cast doubt on the conventional wisdom in Washington” that more U.S. and NATO troops can put down “the alarming Taliban resurgence.”

An “Iraq-like surge” might not “be enough to end the war,” said Greg Bruno in the Council on Foreign Relations’ Web site, and it might not “win over an increasly frustrated Afghan public.” But “more boots on the ground could help restore order, at least temporarily,” so it’s worth a shot.

It’s hard to see how we’d pay for another Iraq-like surge, said Trudy Rubin in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And even if the U.S. can muster enough troops to make a difference, the financial crisis will make it hard for us to scrape together reconstruction funds that will be “as important as military action in stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Maybe we need to set our goals lower, said Matthew Yglesias in Think Progress. If it has become unrealistic to expect that we can leave behind a stable central government there, maybe we should be satisfied with just making sure that we can keep portions of the country from being used for terrorist operations against the United States.