More than 40 years after the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan, even after reviving the counterinsurgency doctrine (only to see it crash-and-burn in short order), the U.S. military still doesn't get it.
With the United States now well into the second decade of what the Pentagon has styled an "era of persistent conflict," the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism (unofficial acronym WFKATGWOT) appears increasingly fragmented and diffuse.
So why aren't the U.S. and its allies screaming about the situation? Because, if they are to have a face-saving way out of Afghanistan that doesn't disintegrate into chaos, they desperately need China's huge new investments to continue and prosper.
Recent events in Afghanistan should be a wake-up call to how our 10-year occupation is actually being perceived, demonstrating the danger of America trying to forcibly export its liberal values onto illiberal societies.
You can bet your bottom dollar that the measure of success in Afghanistan will begin to shift. A more honest statement would be, "We'll know success when we decide to define as success whatever we can manage."