. We should not invest any coalition credibility in holding the peripheral areas: Over the next three years, the Taliban flag may go up in some towns and villages. In our current narrative, that will be seen as a major victory for them. In reality, to control dusty villages on the periphery, and even remote district centres, means little. We need to adjust our narrative so people expect that, and when it happens, people believe us when, legitimately, we point out that this is insignificant. By so adjusting the narrative, we take pressure off the Afghans to hold the peripheral areas, which they do not want to, only being there because they perceive it as a condition for us giving them support.The main point of his column is that this is not a binary conflict where one side loses, the other wins, and both the US and Afghan publics should understand that there will be no clear victory, and nor could there be.
But is the Obama administration explaining this forcefully enough?
I don't think so.