Is Trump's agenda being eclipsed?
"I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire," said Winston Churchill to cheers at the Lord Mayor's luncheon in London in November 1942.
True to his word, the great man did not begin the liquidation.
When his countrymen threw him out in July 1945, that role fell to Clement Attlee, who began the liquidation. Churchill, during his second premiership from 1951-1955, would continue the process, as would his successor, Harold Macmillan, until the greatest empire the world had ever seen had vanished.
While its demise was inevitable, the death of the empire was hastened and made more humiliating by the wars into which Churchill had helped to plunge Britain, wars that bled and bankrupted his nation.
At Yalta in 1945, Stalin and FDR treated the old imperialist with something approaching bemused contempt.
War is the health of the state, but the death of empires.
The German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires all fell in World War I. World War II ended the Japanese and Italian empires -- with the British and French following soon after. The Soviet Empire collapsed in 1989. Afghanistan delivered the coup de grace.
Is it now the turn of the Americans?
Persuaded by his generals -- Mattis at Defense, McMasters on the National Security Council, Kelly as chief of staff -- President Trump is sending some 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to augment the 8,500 already there.
Like Presidents Obama and Bush, he does not intend to preside over a U.S. defeat in its longest war. Nor do his generals. Yet how can we defeat the Taliban with 13,000 troops when we failed to do so with the 100,000 Obama sent?