Believe it or not, war is actually a lot more black and white than most Americans have been lead to believe in the post-Vietnam world. There are really only two options Win: in which your enemy is destroyed and thus unable to fight, or realizes that they simply can't continue to fight OR Lose: either you can not continue to fight, or you are destroyed by your enemy. There is no Draw. In reality all wars that were considered a "draw" were simply preludes to a furthering of war, that usually went decisively one way or another.
Don't believe me, well what was WWI, but a prelude to WWII? Everyone but the Americans were tired of fighting, and though Germany was losing they hadn't lost. The Americans who had only been on the lines a few months, and kept on attacking right up until the 11th hour of the 11th day felt that this would be a false peace. Gen "Black Jack" Pershing was totally against the Armistice for the simple reason that in a few years the Americans would have to come back and fight again. He was right. Germans didn't feel defeated, and yet had to suffer the ignominy of defeat as per treaty. Ever wonder how a nobody corporal, who was put on trial for treason of all things became the Vice-Chancellor? Its because Germans still thought they could have won the war.
How about Vietnam? In almost every battle US Soldiers preformed brilliantly. Despite the brush VVAW, and many media outlets might paint, when the US Army or Marine Corps went into battle they went into win, and fought like tigers (even the draftees). The draw-down and "Vietnamization" from about 69-72, still saw US troops doing their best to win the war, and leave the Republic of Vietnam free. When the Paris Peace accords were signed, there were a lot of things in it that should have been red flags, like the fact that NVA troops could stay in the country. It didn't take long for the Democratic People's Republic of Vietnam to break its word and launch a full invasion of the south. Bereft of the Material and Monetary Support and more importantly Air Support that the RVN was promised the ARVN fought bravely, but it was a foregone conclusion.
So why haven't we had to fight Japan or Germany again? Because we won. We crushed their ability to fight, and more importantly showed them the futility and if you will, the error of their ways. With Germany, the Allied troops were marching through their lands with impunity, any units of the Wehrmacht that were still able to bare arms were manned by child soldiers, or so hopelessly outgunned that it would have been sheer suicide to keep fighting. The Luftwaffe, had ceased to exist, so there was no real way to escape their fate. With Japan, it was far more about the will to fight. Believe it or not the Fire-bombing of Tokyo killed more people than both Atomic Bombs combined (to include deaths from ARS or Acute Radiation Syndrome, and Cancer after the fact), and yet they gave the Japanese version of the middle finger after Tokyo was bombed but capitulated after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why? Because the Japanese realized that there would be no hope, that if the Americans had the technology to wipe out a city with a single bomb then there was no possible way to resist. To be VERY clear I'm NOT advocating the use of Strategic or even Tactical Nukes against our current enemies, but putting a healthy dose of Fear into the enemy is a good thing.
Also, though we have not directly engaged Russia in Ground combat since 1917, there is a lesson from the victory in the Cold War. Wars are not always fought on the battlefield. Sometimes they are waged through economic means. If we take that into account and look at the world today, it sure seems that someone is out there trying to make economic war on America. Again this is a war we can still win. How? well let's be smart. Instead of trying to go with solutions that seem politically correct, how about we go with solutions that are economically so. I don't care about "Green" anything, but if you have a methodology of mass producing energy that can be controlled inside the United States? Go for it. Likewise I don't think "Bio Diesel" is going to do much, but if we can make Octane, then by all means rev that bad boy up and lets make some gas.
In all our endeavors as a nation, we can either win or lose. There is no draw. The "withdrawal" from Afghanistan seems a little too much like a defeat for my tastes. Its clear to me that the ANA is not ready to fight on its own, and is almost regularly being infiltrated by Jihadis. The Karzai government is demonstrably corrupt, and the narco-terrorists that are the Taliban have even come back to power in certain areas. If we want the W in Afghanistan (No not the President. Get your head out of the political gutter) then we'll have to dig deep and state once and for all that we're not leaving until we've won. We don't have just Military tools at our disposal. If we're hitting a wall militarily, lets attack the Taliban economically. Hey here's an idea what if we taught the Afghans industrial farming practices? What if we taught a couple of folks how to mass produce say Tractors and tractor parts? Why they could build for themselves all the tools they'd need, and might even have a modicum of success. Amazing! If you can't attack Economically (because they are living about 100 years in the past technologically), than make a cultural attack. Hey here's a thought how about we use mass propaganda. Its not like there's any lack of material to show just how bad the Taliban is. Use that. If not there, then attack Theologically. That is really hitting them below the belt but if you can use the Qoran against them. . .
My point is, if you want to win in Afghanistan, then act like it, and fight like a lion, never give up, and never give half hearted measures. If you think you might lose, then now is the time to cut your losses. Pack your stuff up, and pull out. Pull everyone out, with little or no warning. Destroy in place what you can't pull out by bird. Pretending that there is a third option is only going to make matters worse when the inevitable resurgence does come. America can take a loss, so long as our leaders are honest about it. If you try to spin this as a win that loses, then America will lose more than just respect or world position. We will have lost hope, and we will lose faith. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that 50% of the President's 2008 Campaign slogan (well 33.3% if you add the word "and")?