In expressing support for Trump's open-ended commitment, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) used the tired old saying that the United States has the watches, but the Taliban has the time. "If they believe that we have some end date, some timetable, then they will wait us out," he said. But this fundamentally misunderstands the nature of this type of overseas struggle. The Taliban will wait us out for a very simple reason: They live there.
Harry Summers, a wise army officer in the Vietnam War who went on to write a definitive book on that conflict's military lessons, "On Strategy," opened the book by recounting an exchange he had with a North Vietnamese officer in 1975, just before Saigon fell. "You know you never defeated us on the battlefield," Summers said. The officer replied, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant." Every local force knows one thing in its bones: Eventually, the foreigners have to go home.
Saturday, August 26, 2017