After 17 years of woeful strategic ignorance, it has finally dawned on the dimwits in the Pentagon and State Department - not to mention the military on the ground - that the occupation of Afghanistan is going nowhere ... except towards a long slow and ignominious defeat. Trump - yes, "Il Douche" himself - has instructed his minions and proconsul (Augustus "Mike" "Pompous" Pompeo) to try and find a way to negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban that will enable the US to withdraw whilst retaining a minuscule fig-leaf of respectability.
The US disaster in Afghanistan has led to the unnecessary death of tens of thousands of civilians, the tarnishing of US military prowess, systematic and endemic corruption, several thousand military deaths for a range of Western countries... and the moral degradation and shattering of mass psychology that comes with providing a cause for a brutal "insurgency".
The US mission was initially an attempt at counter-terrorism - they wanted to root out and destroy al Qaeda. Fair enough. But this was botched within three months of 9/11 in December 2001 in the mountains of Bora Tora when the al Qaeda leadership escaped and lived to fight another day. By the time Bin Laden was assassinated almost 10 years later, he had become utterly irrelevant to the everyday global jihadist movement.
The Taliban were of course also removed from power in Afghanistan - they never really had much to do with Kabul anyway - and what began as a US mission to counter terrorism (al Qaeda) morphed into counter-insurgency (Taliban) - many of whose fighters moved over across the border into Pakistan. The problem was that al Qaeda were foreigners in Afghanistan and the Taliban aren't. This kind of mission creep threw the US effort into disarray... but it was nothing compared to the damage inflicted by the child-genius George W Bush and his evil uncles, Dick "The Dick" Cheney and Donald "Duck!!" Rumsfeld when they authorised and implemented an Israeli-based plan ("A Clean Break" overseen by the Prince of Darkness himself, Richard Perle, and written for Netanyahu) to invade Iraq and remove Saadam for the greater good of world peace. At that point, the mission in Afghanistan was put on the back-burner while the mission in Iraq became a mismanaged raging inferno.
The Pentagon, US military and State Department have consistently misunderstood the nature of their occupation, the nature of the conflict and the Taliban, and the potential outcomes in Afghanistan, from the outset. In particular, the military was convinced that they could make a difference and subdue the Taliban. How's that going guys?
The problem behind the entire mess is that the US has been driven by three wildly mistaken framings and assumptions. The first is that they are engaged in a "Clash of Civilisations" with (radical) Islam (of which they believe the Taliban to be a prime example) and that therefore every incarnation of radical Islam represents a material national security (ie: "terrorist") threat to the US. This is simply nonsense and not supported by the facts. There is no evidence that the Taliban has ever tried to attack the US homeland. Its "radical" Islam is nothing of the sort: it's a version of Islam that is ultra-conservative, ancient and cultural rather than modern, global and ideological.. as radical Islam is.
The second problem is all too American: a misplaced confidence in its military prowess and the belief that all problems can eventually be settled by killing enemies - hence the ongoing, counter-productive, drone warfare. What Iraq and Afghanistan proved beyond doubt was that the US military really struggles with asymmetric warfare since military advantage can quite easily neutralised when the real battle is for control and influence over the mass psychology of the people (something, amazingly, many American foreign policy and military experts struggle to understand).
The third mistake is really quite unforgivable. A succession of military chiefs (including the overblown upstart and self-publicist, "King David" Petraeus) has cast the Taliban as a kind of illegal and illegitimate insurgency enabling them to cast the US presence as pro-government, stabilising and counter-insurgency. Their advice over the years (including memorably to Obama) was to increase rather than decrease the US military presence... with the consequences we see today. Petraeus was sent back to Afghanistan to implement his own failed strategic advice (another, yawn, "Surge") and consoled himself with other well-publicised things (sorry, "flings").
The fact is - despite the plethora of misinformation pouring out from US foreign policy journals and other experts - the Taliban are not insurgents but one side of a civil war. They are ethnic Pashtuns who are resisting not only occupation but challenging the current government .... which makes the situation in Afghanistan a civil-war with a lid on - and one that makes the Taliban look increasingly resilient. There are no more military moves for the US to play and no matter how long it stays there cannot be a military solution in the sense that the Taliban is too strong to be defeated (even by the US) but too weak to gain control of the country. Some kind of negotiation is therefore essential - and let the Afghanis get on with it.
What is astonishing is that it's Il Douche - as Commander-in-Chief - who has seen the light and instructed his people to call their people. It's probably the only right call he's ever made.... and it's not before time.
The link below to a New York Times article includes a different picture (in parts) to the one painted here by States of Mind - but who are you going to trust??
Il Douche orders his minions to work towards a negotiated settlement with the Taliban...