Gorby may or may not be right about the U.S. not winning, but it’s absolutely asinine to say victory in Afghanistan is “impossible.” He’s only saying that, obviously, because it excuses the Soviet Union’s incompetence. If the enemy was invulnerable, then there’s no shame in the Evil Empire having foundered.
The Invincible Afghanistan concept is a myth. It is, along with unfortunates like Israel, Korea, and Sicily, one of the most trampeled and abused regions in the history of the world. There is something to the “quagmire” thing, though. Power derives from being so god-forsaken that no one wants to exert the effort to ensure longterm administration.
We all know the U.S. could subdue Afghanistan, easily, if it wanted to. And that’s without nuking and leaving. Pick a taliban figure, make him king, and sit back and watch. But no, we’re all confused. Mixing force with social welfare. One foot in and one foot out. Wanting to leave yet pretending like we’d stay to the crack of doom. Capable of crushing everyone yet committed to “democracy” yet not trusting of anyone democratically elected yet stick with corrupt officials for lack of a choice yet hating it yet continuing to hold our noses.
When you come down to it, we’re just not happy imperialists. Which is not to say victory is impossible. hitler coulda done it in a jiffy.