Increasingly resigned to the reality that the US simply isn’t going to stumble into a military victory in Afghanistan, US military commanders are looking to redouble their efforts. The goal now is to not just kill people, but “shape the political environment” ahead of negotiations.
Officials now see their goal increasingly as bolstering America’s bargaining position in inevitable negotiations with the Taliban. Their tactics for this are, unfortunately, further escalation of the raids and airstrikes that failed to win the war in the first place.
“You turn the dial up,” Gen. Miller said of the US intentions now that they think the Taliban are willing to negotiate. The assumption is that the Taliban will want an end to the war and start making concessions to avoid further US escalations.
Yet this ignores the entire 17+ year history of the war, in which the Taliban has always been content to wait out US surges, particularly those that seem extremely temporary, and continue to amass gains where they can.