Afghanistan: What’s in a Victory?

Losing to the Taliban is not winning. But there is a way out.

The United States used to win wars. Today, however, the United States military has been mired in the War in Afghanistan since 2001 — with no hope of winning. Not only has the war gone on without resolution, but the once-unquestionable dominance the United States military exerted in the country has been degraded to such a point that the American-backed central government in Kabul is likely going to fall to the Taliban once the last American troops leave the country.

During a Thanksgiving phone call to the troops, President Donald J. Trump — a long-time critic of the War in Afghanistan — put an airman in Afghanistan on the spot when he demanded to know how “things were looking” in Afghanistan to the low-ranking officer. After much fumbling, the airman gave the standard Pentagon line: the Taliban is a tough opponent and has retaken ground the Americans previously liberated from them, but that good old-fashioned can-do spirit of the American military would push the United States to victory.