We have been in Afghanistan for fifteen years now, and we cannot really define why we are there with any believability, nor can we say when we are leaving. The Russians, on the other hand, after being in Syria for the purpose of restoring the Syrian government to a winning position in their civil war, have accomplished that goal in a matter of about six months and are sending their forces back home.
So which nation is a “major power” here? The one that was warning the other about the “quagmire” into which it was going to find itself, or the one which was and still is in a quagmire of its own?
Some would say that the Russian objective was “more limited,” which actually is a good part of my point; Russia had an objective, met that objective and is going home. If we have an objective in Afghanistan, it certainly has never been spelled out in any fashion that makes sense to any thinking, rational person.
Nor has any logical objective been set forth for our presence in Syria, because the effort to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State while helping Al Queda destroy Syria makes no sense whatever, especially given that we were carefully not attacking the Islamic State’s income-producing oil transportation system. Russia wiped it out in its entirety in about two weeks while we were castigating Russia for attacking Al Queda and accusing them of not attacking the Islamic State.
Maybe the problem is that the miracle F-35 has not yet arrived at the battle front yet.