Summary: What stage is the Af-Pak War in our minds? As it did during the Iraq War, Kuber-Ross stages of stages of dying provides perspective.
In November 2006 an analysis on this website described America as moving through five of the stages of dying into bargaining with respect to its expedition to Iraq. Now we’re in the final stage, acceptance. We greet the news with indiffernce as our forces withdraw. China signing contracts to exploit Iraq’s oil. Iran consolidating its political gains in Iraq (as described in today’s Guardian), becoming the regional hegemon (albeit now a weak one). Those bases we spent tens of billions of dollars constructing become Iraq’s. Perhaps we’ll keep one, giving us the base from which to project power across the Middle East — one of the primary reasons for our invasion and occupation. But probably not.
Now our time comes in Afghanistan. As many 4GW experts forecast, the NATO Expedition to Afghanistan was doomed before it began, largely due to unrealistic goals. Replacing the Tailiban with the Northern Alliance, chasing out al Qaeda — both reasonable. But for some reason we couldn’t quit there. We went on to larger and delusional goal: building a stable western-like State – bringing democracy, women’s rights, etc. Now the bitter end comes into sight.
The Kubler-Ross “Death and Dying” process offers a good metaphor for our conduct of the war. (For more on the theories of Kuber-Ross see Changing Minds and Wikipedia)