Not long ago I interviewed Laurel Miller, who served as America’s top diplomat for Afghanistan and Pakistan until the end of June, when she left the State Department and the Trump administration shut down her office. Here is what she had to say on the subject of winning, a sentiment echoed by numerous other current and former U.S. officials with whom I’ve spoken about this in recent weeks:
“I don’t think there is any serious analyst of the situation in Afghanistan who believes that the war is winnable. It’s possible to prevent the defeat of the Afghan government and prevent military victory by the Taliban, but this is not a war that’s going to be won, certainly not in any time horizon that’s relevant to political decision-making in Washington.”
Still, winning is what Trump offered, along with a trademark helping of bombast, blame-casting and name-calling.