The way I see it, we are keeping the seat (of government) warm for the Taleban, ready to hand it over to them, lock, stock and barrel, as soon as the leaders can be persuaded to rebrand themselves and keep the violence down long enough for us to declare a victory and get out while the going is good. Then Afghanistan will disappear off the media radar and it can return to the Stone Age of Islamic fundamentalism.
Surely that is too cynical. Even if power were handed back to the Taliban, it would be a modified one. And that can't happen without sacrificing the Kabul centre's political apparatus and all associated with it. I would assume reprisals would be vicious. Maybe the Brownies are hoping that the Taliban will have evolved into a negotiable entity which would be presentable to the world. I doubt it, because the Taliban currently are defiant and well-defined. It's surely worth pointing out too that despite the UK's setbacks, the coalition as a whole is not under the same degree of pressure, and the casualty rate is still below that which occurred in Iraq during the worst period (which persisted for about a year)
More interestingly, in light of some of your recent posting, do you consider that the Coalition lost the war in Iraq (I have your book on order, but that was not my understanding of your view, which I understood related primarily tothe UK's failure there)? I think the British certainly lost, but the US gained a victory. However, the Machievellian interpretation would be that the US cut a deal with the worst insurgents, and called it an "awakening" among the tribesmen. Having met a few tribes (not Arab ones admittedly), I would say that the change in fortunes in Iraq was a tribute to the Petraeus strategy, whether or not the switching of sides included some bartering.
On the whole I agree though that afghanistan has been and is being appallingly managed. It's possible you're right that the UK wants to get out. I can't see how they can manage it and it will certainly haunt them if they do. The US ditto. I think if Obama really wants to be a one-term President, withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a cast-iron way to achieve it.