…The United States and its many allies are not losing in Afghanistan. … We are proceeding with our plan to hand over primary responsibility for security to the Afghans by the end of 2014.
This will allow the United States to accomplish our national security objectives in the region: defeating al-Qaeda; preventing al-Qaeda and its affiliates from establishing permanent bases in Afghanistan and the tribal regions of Pakistan; and maintaining our own bases in the region from which to operate drones, manned aircraft and Special Operations forces. Calls for a more rapid and complete withdrawal ignore the geopolitical realities and threats that first led to U.S. intervention after the Sept. 11 , 2001, attacks — and that will continue to require armed U.S. assistance for decades to come.
…Pakistan is the core problem in the region; the George W. Bush and Obama administrations have chosen to cooperate with Pakistan and wage an undeclared war within its borders rather than engage in open war with a nuclear power. Cooperating with Pakistan to the extent that Islamabad is willing to do so is unpalatable — but all of the alternatives are worse.
We will bear the heavy burden of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan for years. U.S. soldiers will continue to serve in the region, assisting Afghan (and sometimes Pakistani) security forces against threats to the stability of both nations, conducting raids on insurgents and terrorists and preventing a broader war in South Asia. This is what success looks like in such wars.