In his majestic poem “Recessional,” Rudyard Kipling was writing of the fading British Empire, but his words are as vivid and pertinent today as a century ago:
Far-called our navies melt away –
On dune and headland sinks the fire –
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
The objective of war is to achieve political objectives, not to kill enemies.
Politically, the US has achieved nothing in Afghanistan after ten years of desultory, destruction, and titanic expenditure.
So in this sense, the United States has already lost the Afghan conflict, its longest war. Militarily its forces have been stalemated, meaning that it has lost the all-important military initiative and is now on the strategic defensive. We have seen this before – in Vietnam.
Once more, Afghanistan fulfills its grim title as “graveyard of empires.”
The US has failed to install an obedient regime in Kabul that controls Afghanistan. It has made bitter foes of the nation’s Pashtun majority, and, in pursuing this war, gravely undermined Pakistan. Claims that US forces were only in Afghanistan to hunt the late Osama bin Laden were widely disbelieved.