Battleland

Playing to a Draw, at Best?

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TONY KARUMBA / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

US Army troops deploy 'A-pops' - charges fired by rocket onto surfaces suspected to have IED traps which explode and trigger the safe detonation of the devices at the village of Geranda, Kandahar Province in Afghanistan on Sept. 21.

Don’t expect to hear about it in the presidential campaign debates, but the U.S. will leave Afghanistan locked in an escalating civil war when it observes the 2014 deadline for withdrawing combat troops set by the Obama Administration — and supported by Gov. Mitt Romney.

Washington has known for years that it had no hope of destroying the Taliban, and that it would have to settle for a compromise political solution with an indigenous insurgency that remains sufficiently popular to have survived the longest U.S. military campaign in history. Still, as late as 2009, the U.S. had hoped to set the terms of that compromise, and force the Taliban to find a place for themselves in the constitutional order created by the NATO invasion and accept a Karzai government it has long dismissed as “puppets.”

This was the  logic behind President Obama’s “surge,” which sent an additional 30,000 U.S. troops into the Taliban’s heartland, with the express purpose of bloodying the insurgents to the point that their leaders would sue for peace on Washington’s terms. But the surge ended last month with the Taliban less inclined than ever to accept U.S. terms as the 2014 departure date for U.S. forces looms.

Full dispatch here.

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