Americas effort on Afghanistan is not going to bring a successful result in Afghanistan. It will not bring a secure, human rights respecting and relatively prosperous Afghanistan. It will not bring about an end to the Taliban and the draconian society they offer in Afghanistan. The problem is that the U.S. government has not rallied world attention on Afghanistan it has not rallied that attention to advocate to the Afghanistan government that it needs to make major changes if Afghanistan is to succeed. The U.S. needs to rally the international community and the United Nations to pressure the Afghanistan Government to change its form of government and its laws to decentralize power, it needs to give provinces and districts in Afghanistan dramatically more power than they presently have. Ordinary Afghanis dont identify with the central government they have little passion for the central government, expecting them to work and sacrifice and put their lives and their families lives at risk for a central Afghanistan government they care little about is foolishness, a wasted effort and a strategy doomed to failure from the start. Secondly, the international community has to pressure the Afghanistan government that it is totally unacceptable that Afghanistan is the largest opium and heroin producing country in the world, the international community has to blow away these views amongst the Afghanistan government and the Afghanistan people that growing poppies and producing opium is just part of the culture of Afghanistan. The Afghanistan people have to be persuaded to start appreciating the harm of drugs, drugs turn people into addicts, destroy users mental and psychological health and fuels an extremely harmful criminal underworld throughout the world; the Afghanistan government has to pass laws and implement policies which permanently stop this illicit drug trade from Afghanistan. Whatever it takes from the international community to see this drug trafficking from Afghanistan permanently stops needs to be done - whether it be turning off foreign aid, to world governments criminally prosecuting the highest level of members of the Afghanistan government that are criminally culpable in the drug trade and using the full force of these countries security forces to gain custody of these culpable Afghanistan officials, the world community has to stop playing with Afghanistan on this issue. If the Afghanistan government acts like an optimally wise government they will pass laws making it a capital offense to commit acts of major drug trafficking in Afghanistan, this strategy has worked in many other countries throughout the world. The international community has no problem being vocal and fired up on Iraq, Iran, Pakistan but with Afghanistan it acts almost like it doesnt care. One can understand on Iraq, Iraq is in essence a wealthy country with the third or fourth largest oil and gas reserves in the world and it is a key Arab country and the world is enraptured with what goes on in the Arab world which also explains its interest in Iran besides Irans pursuit of nuclear weapons and its commitment toward aggression. With respect to Pakistan, Pakistan and India are both nuclear armed countries and the world is worried that a failed Pakistan could cause serious security issues with India and/or could put the world on a course where Pakistan nuclear weapons are put in the hands of people who will use them. The United States job is to get the international community to recognize that it has great vested interests in what happens in Afghanistan because if Afghanistan fails the Taliban and al Qaeda will have their way in Afghanistan and al Qaeda will thus be empowered to bring terrorism to the West and not only do practically all Western countries have to worry about the harm to their people from such terrorism but also they need to worry about the harm this threat could cause on their countrys economy as the worlds current recession teaches all major countries are significantly interconnected economically what happens in one significantly affects others, terrorism has the power to at minimum significantly wound the recipient countrys economy producing damaging economic ripple effects to other countries in the world. The U.S. government has to stop wasting time and energy on Iraq and Pakistan. Iraq is done, Iraqs internal politics make it clear the US armed forces have to leave Iraq and the Status of Forces agreement sets the timetable. Pakistan is done, the Pakistani people and the Pakistanis government recognize that the Taliban offer a lousy quality of life for Pakistanis and a lousy future for them; and, as seen the Pakistani government is taking the needed action to remove the Taliban militant threat. The U.S. government just needs to keep its mouth shut and give the Pakistani people and the Pakistani government the only thing it needs from the U.S., U.S. foreign aid. There is no reason why the U.S. government diplomatically cant create a full court press on the international community and the Afghanistan government to get the Afghanistan government to do the right thing and decentralize its government and help build a good Afghanistan from the bottom up. The essence of Americas plan for Afghanistan is a successful plan, that is, to create security in local communities and try to build a good quality society in these local communities with schools, markets, businesses, mosques and the like so that ordinary Afghanis have a life worth holding onto and working for. The problem again is that America is not doing anything or enough to create that loud and clear international call on the Afghanistan government to take the steps necessary to support building a good Afghanistan from the bottom up. It wasnt a silver bullet but it helped in Iraq because it drew attention to the tasks which needed to be accomplished the international communitys call on Iraq to achieve a list of benchmark goals needed to put Iraq on the road to success. The U.S. and the international community need to produce a list of benchmarks that the Afghanistan government needs to accomplish to put Afghanistan on the road to success. The first benchmark would be to decentralize power. Give provincial councils and district councils real power, at least the provincial councils should have the power to tax and use the money to provide services to local Afghan communities. Provincial and district officials need to be in charge of the local police making them account to a central government is stupid, the central government ordinary Afghanis dont relate to making local police account to provincial and district officials will make them accountable to the people they should be serving. The Afghanistan government has to stop with this form of government where the president appoints the provincial governors, citizens of a province should pick all their government representatives otherwise it causes resentment and lack of support for those representatives that are appointed. The second benchmark is to stop the large scale growing of poppies and large scale drug trafficking in Afghanistan. This cancer in Afghanistan must be stopped. The third benchmark is to stop the corruption in Afghanistan. Corruption is a big obstacle to relative prosperity in Afghanistan, it deters and stops business investment which produces wealth. Corruption also causes insidious harm on a country, good countries dont have rampant corruption. The U.S. government really needs to step-up several levels higher its diplomatic efforts on Afghanistan. Many countries throughout the world dont want to contribute to the security effort in Afghanistan but how about these countries indirectly helping Afghanistan with its critical social needs. Afghanistan desperately needs teachers, government administrators, doctors, nurses, etc. countries throughout the world should do a hell of a lot better than they presently are about taking Afghanistan citizens into their country educating them in the aforementioned needed specialty so they can go back to their home country and build a good Afghanistan. The U.S. government working with the Afghanistan government should be diplomatically pushing for these international commitments. The U.S. military in Afghanistan has the right strategy in Afghanistan to build up the size and strength of the Afghanistan Army and Afghanistan police force. This strategy recognizes the wisdom that only indigenous people can best police and provide security for their own country and it makes the appropriate effort to avoid U.S. armed forces appearing like the old Soviet Union forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s which provoked a nationalistic uprising amongst Afghanis causing the Soviet forces to suffer a disastrous defeat. Regardless of these good initiatives of the U.S. military, there are some alarming developments that have come from the U.S. military in regard to its policies in Afghanistan of late. 1) This policy that if the Taliban fighters make it to civilian occupied areas in Afghanistan, U.S armed forces are to withdrawal so as to not risk any civilian casualties amongst the Afghanistan people. It is completely understandable that the U.S. armed forces policy would be to prohibit the use of air weapon power under these circumstances because of the destructive power and lack of precise control of this weapon power and the concern of avoiding innocent civilian casualties. But it makes no sense whatsoever to have a policy of withdrawal, you have enemy soldiers identified and located, good judgment calls for them to be killed or captured at their present location than to be permitted to escape where they would then pose a lethal threat to U.S. troops. The U.S. armed forces should come up with policies and procedures where enemy soldiers found to be in those situation are to be surrounded and contained and to be weakened by just waiting them out and tanks are to be used to pull down these hideout buildings and tear gas is to be used to flush out enemy soldiers and snipers used to kill them and other tactics are to be developed that provide outstanding protection for U.S. soldiers but facilitate the killing or capture of these enemy soldiers. 2) This policy that if Taliban fighters are found to be fleeing up into the mountains or away from inhabited communities the U.S. military will not pursue them. Obviously the U.S. army has limited resources and it is a very prudent strategy to make it the top priority securing inhabited communities. But again if there is identified enemy soldiers with an identified location there should not be a blanket policy to let them escape if they are fleeing an inhabited community. The U.S. armed forces has incredible air surveillance capacity and air fire capacity, there should be a priority placed that if U.S. ground troops are present in sufficient numbers that they can repel any foreseeable enemy attack and there is available air surveillance and air fire support they should track those enemy soldiers for a good distance seeking to kill them so they dont have to face these enemy soldiers again. 3) Third, this policy that U.S. armed forces on the ground in Afghanistan dont get involved in poppy crop eradication is nonsensical. Of course it should not be a top priority, killing and capturing enemy combatants is of course a higher priority. Afghanistan drugs which come from these poppy crop cause dramatic harm in the world plus and most importantly the poppy crop is the means the Taliban leaders use to raise money to pay their troops and buy weapons for their troops which provide compelling reasons for eradication of such crops. U.S. armed forces officers should make it a priority that they are going to have these poppy fields burnt down by their troops whenever and wherever they can in Afghanistan. The U.S. armed forces should pay a modest fee to those farmers of these poppy fields for their lost crops so as to support good community relations with local Afghan populations for a year or two but Afghan farmers have to get the message that growing poppy crops is extremely bad behavior from a human being standpoint and is not practical, it wont be economically beneficial for them. Moreover, the U.S. government should extract from the Afghanistan government full support for this endeavor and a commitment and actual follow through on that commitment that the Afghanistan army will be doing the same in terms of poppy crop eradication. All these above mentioned foolish military policies have the smell of the foolish military policies promulgated during the Vietnam War (e.g. military planes in the air couldnt attack enemy weapons system visible to them without specific approval from the White House) which caused the U.S. to lose that war. I believe it was General Norman Schwarzkopf who said something like this when you go to war you unleash the full force of your army to annihilate the enemy, you fight to win; it is readily apparent that todays U.S. armed forces need a few more Generals of General Schwarzkopf elk.