The Washington Post makes the case for trying to win in Afghanistan. That’s right; the Washington Post. The takeaway:
That doesn’t mean the Taliban or al-Qaeda would suddenly get hold of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons — though that is the ultimate danger. It does mean that the larger “Afpak” region that the administration has defined as a focus would be destabilized, along with much of the rest of south and central Asia. As long as the Taliban were a dominant force in Afghanistan, Pakistan would be in danger of succumbing to radical forces. In the likely event that Afghanistan was plagued by an endless civil war — as it was during the Taliban’s last ascendancy — the country would again become a place of proxy conflict among Pakistan, India, Iran and other nations. Not those countries, but the United States would be blamed for the horrendous humanitarian cost — including the brutalization of women that would occur wherever the Taliban gained authority.
Defeating the Taliban and fostering an Afghan government and army that can stabilize the country are daunting tasks that will require years of patience. It could be that even a concerted effort, along the lines proposed by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, would fail. There should be no mistaking, however, what the stakes of this conflict are. Whether or not al-Qaeda regains its pre-9/11 haven, a Taliban victory would be a catastrophe for the United States and its allies.
The reason Al Qaeda was drawn to Afghanistan is that the Taliban actually implemented their idea of a caliphate. The destruction of all non-Islamic artifacts and the mass executions that happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over predated Osama Bin Laden’s arrival.