5. Sets a Date Certain to Give Up
From the time Americans males are little boys — at least for those who have real men for fathers — we are instructed in the virtues of perseverance. Sports gives a prime example. NFL coaches stress “playing for 60 minutes,” and NBA coaches for 48.
Winning is about how you finish, not how you start. Just ask Admiral Yamamoto.
Now George W. Bush had his problems with how he conducted the war, adopting a counterinsurgency strategy of nation-building; but he drew the line at drawing this line. You don’t tell the enemy “Just hold out until 2014, and we will be out of your hair.”
Even if you think that nation-building is good, and merely letting SEALs, Delta, and the like play whack-a-mole with the bad guys to their hearts’ content is insufficient, this is just plain stupid. Telling the people whose support you need that you are outta here soon, but the enemy will stay forever, is not exactly what an economist would call a good incentive.
Mitch Rapp adds that incentive through pistol whipping.
Bing West explained in a Wall Street Journal column last October that the deadline loomed over everything the Marines he was with were trying to accomplish:
Joint patrols cannot substitute for Afghan troops who must believe in their own cause. Nothing is gained by “jointness” if the Afghan forces are getting ready to cut local deals and pull back as we leave.
It will just be great for morale, and for recruiting soldiers with a warrior spirit, if the greatest military the world has ever seen is just admitting they are tired, even though they are not being beaten on the battlefield.