It’s been a discouraging several weeks in the Afghan war, but we absolutely should not speed the pace of our withdrawal. All of the evidence suggests that if we walk away from Afghanistan without securing it, terrorists will return it to what it was in 2000 (or worse), their narratives about American decadence will be reinforced, and America’s trustworthiness as a partner to struggling societies will be badly compromised.
Counterinsurgency wars are difficult to win: they take a long time, rely on the indigenous government to develop the capacity to achieve our aims, and on our ability to persuade a war-ravaged society that we are better than our enemies -- to trust us and not them. It’s difficult to see progress even when it’s occurring. But there’s a reason our enemies force us to fight this way: if they fought to our strengths, they would lose decisively and quickly. The
only way the states and organizations we are worried about can defeat us is by eroding our will to prosecute the war. And they are currently succeeding.