The United States will be trapped in Afghanistan for many costly years to come. It is a good bet that President Obama will have most of the 105,000 U.S. troops expected there by the end of summer, still in that sorry country by the next presidential election, and probably even five years from now. By that time, whoever is president will face such public demands for withdrawal that the fiasco will end, finally—for Americans at least. It's not at all clear whether President Obama fathoms this nightmare or is cynically sidestepping the issue through November 2012.
Sure, I want to be wrong, and I want our efforts to succeed. The Taliban and al Qaeda Muslim terrorists there are monsters, crazed and dangerous. But we face two problems that can't be swept aside or minimized: The bad guys are far better motivated, and fight far better than the Afghans that Washington is trying to help. Our guys in Kabul—President Hamid Karzai and friends—are deeply corrupt, ineffective, and of at least two minds in both needing and hating America. However good U.S. and NATO troops become at fighting this insurgency, they won't and can't be good enough to overcome these two Mount Everests. This conclusion is painfully evident, but we are blocked from seeing it sharply for several reasons.