Hoisted from comments, Brad deLong style…
Reader Bill White writes (slightly edited):
[T]he world’s most expensive military has lost wars in 6 years against one of the world’s poorest countries and a country that had already been weakened by years of sanctions and no-fly zones. Something is wrong with the guiding philosophy of the people who were in charge.
This is an excellent point. These aren’t the Germans or the Japanese in the 1940s, that had conquered half of the world. These aren’t the Cold War Soviets, or the People’s Liberation Army. These aren’t proxies for any of the above, or supported by anything like any of the above.
And yes, I’ve heard the argument that Afghanistan is where empires go to die. But the British invasion was more than a century ago. Before helicopters and transport planes. Hiding in the hills actually qualified as hiding in those days. But not in an era of satellites, spy planes, and night vision goggles. And yes, they managed to stymie the Soviets… but with the help of another Superpower, the US. Who is helping them now? Some elements of Pakistani intelligence and some Pakistani tribesmen with some Saudis sending them money. Come on… a pick-up truck-ful of drunk Texans should be able to beat the Taliban and AQ together, provided their supply of beer and ammo holds out. So what’s going on here?
My opinion… this is a sign of incompetence. The Deciderer, the cheerleaders, and the rest simply have no ability to do things right.
Update. As I noted in many previous posts, I don’t think that any of this reflects on the troops. I think that they are doing the best they can be doing under the circumstances, the circumstances being those imposed on them by the administration.