We win the initial war (take over country etc), we win all the battles, and then we end up in a state of perpetual low grade insurgency warfare. You’re right in saying no one has articulated what victory is. If victory is a Western style Democracy with classical Liberal values in the Middle East you can win that war by killing most the native population and colonizing the country with your own people I guess, but obviously we aren’t going to do that. The Afghanis and Iraqis aren’t going for gay marriage or transgender bathroom rights anytime in this century. So we’re back to what is victory? Maybe success is keeping the governments we installed in power after conquest that are a little better than the ones we overthrew? Sounds like it was worth 5 trillion dollars and thousands of lives. If this is about terrorism we can fight terrorism with a much smaller footprint using mostly air power and special ops. Nation builder is a silly waste of time, let the animals tear each other to pieces, I don’t want to rebuild or occupy their shitty countries.