To succeed in Afghanistan, we must fail

The struggle in Afghanistan is all about Afghans sizing each other up; foreigners are mainly just bystanders.

Until an equilibrium of power has been reached among Afghans that is generally unchallenged, pulling out foreign troops would precipitate a civil war. It would be a tawdry and selfdefeating end to the intervention in Afghanistan. Yet, for as long as foreign troops are dominating the conflict with the Taliban, and for as long as the U.S. is seen as the final arbiter of Afghan politics, an equilibrium of power cannot be reached…

So let’s fail in Afghanistan. Fail in the right way now, and the Afghans will have a chance of succeeding.

The right kind of failure could look like this: The U.S. has fought hard to expand its coalition in Afghanistan, to include nations even if they bring only half a dozen soldiers and at least as many policy differences. Lose this battle. Shrink the coalition to a manageable size.