Every insurgency has a long-term plan. That plan isn't military victory. It's tacit alliance with naysayers or sympathizers from the opposing force who are all too willing to undermine the war effort. Every insurgency is a stalling tactic aimed at the enemy, designed to oust those determined to wage war and install those determined to achieve armistice at all costs.
Even after their defeat at Gettysburg, the Confederacy held out hope that an 1864 Democratic presidential victory would provide them independence. "If we can break up the enemy's arrangements," wrote Robert E. Lee, "he will not be able to recover his position or his morale until the presidential election is over, and then we shall have a new president to treat with."
The Charleston Mercury was even more sanguine; if Democratic presidential candidate George McClellan was elected, the Mercury said, it would "lead to peace and our independence … [provided] that for the next two months we hold out own and prevent military success by our foes."
The same was true a century later. According to North Vietnamese Col. Bui Tin, "Ho Chi Minh said, 'We don't need to win military victories, we only need to hit them until they give up and get out.' … The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor."
Every war, then, is a battle for hearts and minds -- not just for the hearts and minds of our enemies, but also for the hearts and minds of our own citizens. With the election of President Obama, Americans apparently lost their hearts and their minds.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the United States was involuntarily launched into a great struggle against Islamists seeking our destruction. The chief battlefield was Afghanistan, where Osama Bin Laden, with the protection of his Taliban guardians, planned and executed the most devastating strike on American soil in our history.
And now, eight years later, Americans don't care. Last week, an ABC News-Washington Post poll found that 51 percent of Americans said the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting, while only 25 percent said America should send more troops. That was true, despite nearly six in 10 Americans averring confidence in America's ability to defeat the Taliban and stabilize Afghanistan. It's no longer about whether we can win a victory; it's about whether we want to win a victory. And we don't.