So with Al Quaeda essentially not hiding in Afghanistan — and certainly not operating terrorist training camps any more — why should the United States care about the Talban and a political “insurgency”? Our role is not to maintain of support the “national security forces” of third-world countries. Civil wars are the business of those fighting them. President Obama set a deadline, but this deployment has no defined mission and no clear objective. And for centuries Afghanistan has been the graveyard of foreign armies, including the Soviet Union. This is a tried-and-true recipe for disaster.
McChrystal drew a distinction between al-Qaeda terrorists operating in Afghanistan, who he said were few in number and largely limited to non-combat support roles, and insurgents such as the Taliban. “What we are actually going to do is degrade al-Qaeda and prevent them being a threat and build up Afghan national security forces so they can deal with it effectively and so they will need less help. “We can significantly impact Taliban capacity in the timeframe of 18 months. We need to convince them … that [the insurgency] is a losing proposition.”