In 2010, President Barack Obama told an interviewer:
It is very easy to imagine a situation in which, in the absence
of a clear strategy, we ended up staying in Afghanistan for another
five years, another eight years, another 10 years. And we would do
it not with clear intentions but rather just out of an inertia. Or
an unwillingness to ask tough questions.
In the subsequent decade, the war in Afghanistan has been
notable principally for the inertia Obama was concerned about. NATO
allies have gradually faded away as the long war has become ever
longer, leaving the United States to determine the end of the
conflict on its own.
America, too, could leave or pull back. In previous conflicts,
when the strategic rationale had gone stale or when the costs
exceeded the expected benefits, the United States withdrew its
forces from active hostilities, as it did in Somalia in