Another 13 Years in Afghanistan?

| Mon Dec. 30, 2013 12:22 PM EST

I probably missed this while I was away, but the LA Times catches me up this morning:

U.S. intelligence agencies warn in a new, classified assessment that insurgents could quickly regain control of key areas of Afghanistan and threaten the capital as soon as 2015 if American troops are fully withdrawn next year, according to two officials familiar with the findings.

The National Intelligence Estimate, which was given recently to the White House, has deeply concerned some U.S. officials. It represents the first time the intelligence community has formally warned that the Afghan government could face significantly more serious attacks in Kabul from a resurgent Taliban within months of a U.S. pullout, the officials said, speaking anonymously to discuss classified material. The assessment also concludes that security conditions probably will worsen regardless of whether the U.S. keeps troops in the country.

By the time we leave next year, we will have been in Afghanistan for 13 years. And yet, the consensus of our intelligence community is that we've had such a minuscule impact that the Taliban could be back in control of the country within a year or two. I think you can draw two basic conclusions from this:

  • Afghanistan is a tough nut, and we just need a few more years there.
  • The U.S military is plainly unable to affect the basic dynamics of Afghan culture, so we might as well leave.

As near as I can tell, Option A rather curiously marks you as a tough-minded person who faces the world with open eyes. Option B, which actually has the vast weight of evidence behind it, marks you as a dreamer and a defeatist. It's as though we already live on Bizarro Earth. I wonder if things are different back on Earth-1?