"...optimism in Afghanistan should not be mistaken for naïveté. We’ve paid a terrible price for the gains we’ve made, and Afghans know we’re leaving. Insurgents still control many areas and are certain to attempt a counteroffensive as foreign troops withdraw. My optimism is rooted instead in an intangible metric, gleaned from the thousand cups of tea we drank and the hundreds of patrols we walked: the Afghans have the will to win, with or without us."
What Major Lujan wants is what I have advocated from the beginning. I understand this to be a US effort based on expertise, not on massive, brute force. Unfortunately it takes a long term commitment to accomplish basic change in Afghan society or any society. It takes the kind of time commitment that you see in my short story, "The Dancing Carabao." At the time represented in the story (1924) the US had been in the Philippines for 25 years. The process of change had been bloody at times but the relentless effort to better the lot of Filipinos was a "generational commitment." We stayed another 22 years before departing voluntarily in 1947. Such a time commitment is unthinkable in the US of 2011. It was unthinkable in the US of 2001. BTW, I consider the US project in the Phillippines to have been a considerable success, not perfect, but considerable. Filipinos did not become Americans but they had I believe, been helped by our presence.pl