Ten months ago, on December 28, 2014, a ceremony in Kabul officially marked the conclusion of America's very long war in Afghanistan. President Obama called that day "a milestone for our country." That was then. This is now.
Washington and Kabul have, for endless months, been performing a strange pas de deux over the issue of American withdrawal. The less Karzai complied, the more Obama administration and Pentagon officials betrayed an overwhelming need to stay.
Karzai is reportedly making serious overtures to the Taliban, no doubt offering them a power-sharing agreement. Whether he will be successful in achieving this in the waning days of his presidency remains an open question.
If Biden was wrong about advocating a rapid U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan (and Iraq) and Obama was wrong in adopting the Afghan escalation without believing it, then the only viable option left was evidently escalating and being excited about it.
If recent headlines are to be believed, the arrest and alleged mistreatment of Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade on December 12 in Manhattan have triggered an unprecedented deterioration in bilateral relations between Washington and New Delhi.
Our second longest war has already played Houdini, doing a remarkable disappearing job in "the homeland." Almost 12 years after it began, no one here, it seems, is considering how to assess American "success" on that distant battlefield.
Will the U.S. still be meddling in Afghanistan 30 years from now? If history is any guide, the answer is yes. And if history is any guide, three decades from now most Americans will have only the haziest idea why.
My clearest view of the war and how it might turn out came during my days in Paktika Province near the border with Pakistan when I was embedded with elements of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division.