Michèle Flournoy on Afghanistan: “Nobody’s gonna win this on the battlefield”

America’s longest war is approaching its 17th year.

As part of our series, Issues That Matter, we took a closer look at the conflict in Afghanistan with Michèle Flournoy, who served as undersecretary of defense for policy under President Obama from 2009 to 2012.

“The real issue here is a political strategy,” Flournoy told “CBS This Morning” Tuesday. Flournoy is also the co-founder and CEO of the Center for a New American Security.

The war in Afghanistan was launched on October 7, 2001 in response to the September 11 attacks.

“I think first of all, the Taliban has proven to be a very resilient insurgency. They have support from Pakistan, they have support from outside countries. We’ve had an Afghan government that’s been very weak and really plagued by corruption. And we, too, have made mistakes,” Flournoy said.

Flournoy pointed to the years from 2003 to 2009 when she says the U.S. focus was largely switched to Iraq.

“When President Obama came in and launched the surge [of U.S. troops in Afghanistan] in 2009, that was important to regaining momentum, but he also announced that that surge would only last a short while — about less than two years — and so the Taliban had the signal, you know, we can just wait this out,” Flournoy said.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told a Senate committee last month the United States is not winning the war. Flournoy doesn’t disagree.

“It’s really a stalemate at this point. The good news is that the Afghan forces are in the lead and with our support they continue to hold their own, but they do need our continued support,” Flournoy said.

“The real issue here is a political strategy. How do we use that leverage of additional troops supporting the Afghans to actually get the Taliban to the negotiating table. Nobody’s gonna win this on the battlefield.”

Asked how much territory the Taliban controls now compared to 9/11, Flournoy said, “It controls more now than when we first started the war.”

“We have evidence that…

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