Kevin Drum is ready to throw in the towel:
The argument for optimism is that NATO forces have made substantial tactical gains in the past year: intelligence gathering is better, local support is stronger, security is improving, and the Taliban is in retreat. You can read a pretty good version of this case here, from Peter Mansoor and Max Boot. But tactical improvements only get you just so far. Our big long-term problemslack of central government support, lack of Pakistani support, and lack of American public supportsuggest pretty strongly that the war in Afghanistan isn't winnable in any ordinary sense of the word. It's hard to say if this has sunk in at the White House, which released its latest review of Afghanistan on Thursday and apparently plans to stay the course. Sort of.
Fred Kaplan sounds just as exhausted by the conflict:
On the one hand, our chances of success are improved if all the players in the regionKarzai, the Pakistanis, the Taliban, and the Afghan peopleare convinced that the United States is going to stay for a long time to come. On the other hand, if our chances are nonetheless dim because of forces largely beyond our control (such as Pakistan's refusal to crack down on the safe havens inside its territory), then maybe it's time to draw downbut if we do that, how do we keep the Taliban from coming to power and al-Qaida from once again expanding its reach?
Nothing about this war gets any easier.
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