So last week, NATO made a bit of news by saying "yes, we're going to continue the incredibly counter-productive strategy of substituting land forces with airpower, but we're going to start using smaller bombs."
War as a Monty Python sketch, I swear.
This has real consequences -- the American reliance on airpower has been so disastrous that the British (who are describing the fighting in Helmand province as the worst they've seen in Afghanistan since 2001) have asked the US to leave the area of operations entirely. To put it another way, the American way of war has proven so bad that it totally outweighs any advantages the British might have perceived.
Commenter Technetium took me to task for describing our progress in Afghanistan as "jack shit" last week, and sent me a few links to, I imagine, change my thinking -- or at least add to my thinking. (Please, nobody should ever hesitate to do this.) But I'm not about to take back those words, largely because of stories like this. We're proceeding from the (probably correct) view that, if we leave Afghanistan, the Taliban and others will reemerge and challenge the Karzai government for control of the country. At the same time, we're using methods that a) guarantee more popular support for our enemies and b) do nothing to actually win the war. (Air strikes are always, always, always ineffective against rural, low-tech insurgencies.) Our current posture, therefore, is nothing but a holding action. We refuse to commit sufficient resources to actually conclude this war in a meaningful sense. So the war goes on. So we have to stay longer. So the costs, in lives and dollars, continues to go up.
This is what I meant when I used those words, and I still mean it. The only meaningful definition of "progress" when it comes to foreign wars is "getting closer to the day when our soldiers can successfully come home." And I don't believe we're heading in the right direction. I'm not even sure that's a possibility anymore.