(from "quake" + "mire") is, literally, shaky, miry ground; as a political
term used to describe a foreign military campaign[?]
in which there is either no forseeable possibility of victory or the objectives are unclearly defined, and at the same time no clear exit strategy has been formulated in the absence of victory. The military campaign is likened to a kind of swamp or marsh in which the warring nation is unable to remove itself.
Typically, a quagmire situation occurs when a major power attempts with little success to subdue a foreign guerrilla insurgency. Often matters of national pride or belief in military invincibility are the cause of the lack of an exit strategy. The classic examples of quagmires were the American involvement in the Vietnam War and the Soviet war in Afghanistan. It is often humorously suggested that the best way to resolve the military impasse associated with a quagmire is to simply "declare victory and go home."
NEWS ANALYSIS: Quagmire Recalled: Afghanistan as Vietnam, New York Times, Oct. 31, 2001
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