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Far too much commentary on Afghanistan proclaims a desire to "win" without saying what that actually means. The Center for a New American Security's John Nagl, however, lays out what a win for the U.S. looks like:

Success there - defined as an Afghanistan that does not provide a haven for terror or destabilize the region and is able to secure itself with minimal outside assistance - remains a vital national interest of the United States.

And although winning in Afghanistan would not by itself defeat Al Qaeda and associated terror movements, it would strike a hard blow against our enemies, while losing the war there would be cataclysmic: It would strengthen our enemies and lead to the loss of many more innocent lives around the globe.

Later in the piece, Nagl says that such a victory can be achieve in five years. Yet the article, and many like it, elides the crucial questions - how "hard" a blow against our enemies would such a victory in Afghanistan deliver? And would it be worth the cost?