I hate to say it but that number is going far north than 333.
The Afghan government should have known they had a window to liquidate the Taliban and the Haqqani by “doing their villages” but they dragged their feet.
Part of it was Obama’s State Dept trying to nation build. There was only one solution to Afghanistan: sell the village elders on a vision or kill them all.
That is the only thing that motivates them.
> Part of it was Obamas State Dept trying to nation build. <
Obama was just a bit player in all this. The looming failures in Afghanistan and Iraq are all on George W. Bush. Obama, and now Trump, are just playing the bad hands that were dealt them.
Dont let W skate. This terrible mess is on him. Just as Vietnam is on LBJ. Nixon, and then Ford, were just the bit players in that tragedy.
“The Afghan government should have known they had a window to liquidate the Taliban”
The embedded assumption in that is that the Afghan government has the means to do that - liquidate the Taliban. They don’t.
The Taliban can and will keep fighting as long as they just chose to, and no Afghan government can liquidate them.
The Afghan government can survive only as along as it makes that same choice - to keep fighting.
If both sides maintain enough fight in themselves, it may be a century before enough fight has bled out of them, enough to make a settlement.
The two sides represent near diametrically opposed visions of Afghanistan, on a political level, while sharing cultural elements they both have from Afghanistan’s long history.
But the Taliban have one cultural advantage. They are largely Pashtun, and the Pashtun are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan (about 40%) and the second largest ethnic group next door in Pakistan (15%). The Taliban use that ethnic identity as a lever equal to their religious fundamentalism and clan and tribal loyalty. Those are very basic identity levers.
The Afghan government is trying to represent all Afghans and its giant challenge is that it is seeking an identity with an idea. Ideas are harder sells than culturally driven identities and loyalties, particularly in a place that has been at war since the 1980s.
In my view there was only one way to “win” in Afghanistan and no U.S. government had the stomach or the public will to do it - conduct the war like WWII - pull out ALL the stops, throw EVERYTHING at it and do not let up until unconditional surrender. THAT would have won the war, but that was never going to happen. GWBush did not want to go there, and certainly Obama was going to do the opposite.
ALL the U.S. has to do is support the Afghan government sufficiently for that government’s survival, and no more (that’s more on the material side than the troop side). Time, maybe a century, will take care of the rest.