Can’t win a war when only one side is playing by the marcus of queensbury rules and only half in. Should have been evident in the first decade.
When legitimate targets presented themselves, they were dealt with pretty savagely by our side. We were really, really good at killing Taliban. Given that we were fighting an enemy that was in and of the civilian population, I don’t think any less restrained an approach would have been viable. If you start having to commit war crimes to win, you have no moral authority to be waging expeditionary ops in the first place.
We lost because we committed ourselves to nation building something that isn’t a nation. The lines on a map that we call ‘Afghanistan’ are too out of whack with the actual power structures and ethnic distribution on the ground. ‘Afghanistan’ was created to buffer between imperial Russia and British India. I don’t think it was ever a particularly viable nation state construct.