A few thoughts on Afghanistan:
1) Afghanistan is a supporting attack; an operational fixing attack, not unlike the Italian Campaign in WWII.
2) Commanders of supporting attacks always want more resources, just as MacArthur did in the Pacific or Mark Clark did in Italy in WWII.
3) Sometimes, those commanders see genuine operational or strategic opportunity, which should be exploited. Most often they don’t.
4) This is an ethical issue. We are asking our fellow citizens to risk death or crippling injuries in an effort that is less important than others.
5) This may be necessary. However, Monte Cassinos or Rapido Rivers are not necessary.
6) MacArthur understood this (probably grudgingly). Mark Clark did not. There are, in general, more Mark Clarks than Douglas MacArthurs.
7) The heart of this mission is to destroy what remains of “Big AQ” in the Pakistani Border Regions. To do this, we need to control Afghanistan as a force projection platform and as a goad for some AQ and Taliban forces to become decisively engaged. Our presence in Afghanistan is also a signal of commitment to Pakistan and the “‘Stans,” the neighboring former-Soviet Islamic states.
8) We will need to remain engaged in Afghanistan after a military solution to AQ is achieved. In part, this is to obviate the need for any future military solutions being needed.
9) You can win a war against terrorist elements. You can also drive nails with a screwdriver handle. Neither is an optimal use of that particular tool.
10) The non-military side of this may take years, maybe decades. The other side is more patient. They are more used to operating effectively on a shoe-string. However, at this level, this about fair courts, roads and clean water and they are better at it than the governments we are supporting: in Somalia and Iraq, not just in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
11) If they grade the roads; run the credible courts; teach the kids; and collect the taxes, they ARE the government Our guys in Pakistan seem, per news items, to be waking up to this. I hope that spreads.
12) It is ALL about the “L Word” (no, not THAT one): “Legitimacy.”