This war should have been over the moment we disposed of the Taliban.
Fellas. It was. And that’s exactly the problem. The U.S. had 5,200 troops in Afghanistan in 2002. It still had only 15,200 troops in 2004 when the insurgency was already picking up steam. The United States, as is its wont, considered the war won and the job done when it wasn’t. That is why we are where we are today.
Just in case this is somehow difficult to grasp, let me repeat: The United States hasn’t been fighting a full-scale war in Afghanistan for the past eight years. It had a light military presence in the country for seven years while its enemies regrouped. Because it neglected Afghanistan and failed to commit what was needed and finish what it had started, it is now in an unsalvageable situation. No amount of “we-chased-the-Taliban-away-and-destroyed-al-Qaeda’s-camps-and-we-won-we-won-we-won” fantasising will change this fact.