"The Americans have run away again" -- former-SADF (South African Defence Force) soldier in Afghanistan (who will remain anonymous as he's serving with a private security company possibly in contravention to SA law).
Despite recalling "the facts as we knew them", the reality on the ground is a shifting foreign policy, and with it (foreign) public trust, does matter. While the Administration and Republican in Congress decry the Democratic proposals to "cut-and-run" and how that will send the wrong message, the message has already been sent in Afghanistan.
Prior to putting Afghanistan in the "win" column, focus, American and international, was shifted to Iraq. Put in the place of Afghani's, and now Iraqis in light of the deterioriating situation there of our own allowance, one would choose a path of future security even it is not desirable. David Galula, in his book Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (PSI Classics of the Counterinsurgency Era), noted the very same when he wrote of examples in the early 1950's. For example:
In July, 1954, during the Korean War, the aNationalists decided to make a raid on the mainland of China... The Communist garrison was made up of a regular battalion plus a thousand-man militia. The latter, the Nationalists thought, would put up no real fight. Indeed, every piece of available intelligence indicated that the population was thoroughly fed up with the Communists... The [Nationalist paratroopers] were virtually annihiliated. The militia fought like devils. How could they act otherwise when they knew that the Nationalist action was just a raid?