US President Barack Obama landed at the Bagram Airbase in Kabul, paying a surprise visit over the weekend after winning laurels in Moscow over the nuclear agreement with the hosts. He complimented his troops on their achievements as they were keeping their country safe and secure. Trying to be politically correct, he also praised Afghan President Hamid Karzai for sticking it out despite the vicissitudes of fortune. As a great strategist, he also indicated that he would like to end USAs direct involvement. Therefore, he urged his host to prepare to takeover the countrys security. He also stressed that the US would keep helping the Afghans, who have suffered due to the ravages of the war. Assuring the hosts that the US would not abandon the area, perhaps conscious of the 1990 faux pas, he advised Karzai to stop corruption in order to ensure and promote good governance. This he thought would facilitate the US assistance, as well as promote peace, within Afghanistan. President Obama kept his cool for a few weeks on this issue, while he successfully focused on the landmark healt-hcare reforms at home. Basking in the glory of two political victories, one at home and the other in Russia, he gave a new message. Despite Obamas statesmanship and political acumen, the fact remains that the situation in Afghanistan is generally murky. The much-vaunted operation Mushtariq in Marjah and Helmand is pretty much on hold. The stories coming out of the area indicate that there is a lull in the fighting which is prompted by the US forces doling out money to the people most generously. The same, reportedly, is true of the northern provinces wherein the private contractors are paying 'goodwill money to the local Taliban to make sure that their supplies for the US/NATO forces keep going through unhindered. Quite naturally the threatened attack on Kandhar is, now, on hold as a consequence of the Taliban bombing of that city over a week back. The Taliban had also proclaimed that more attacks would follow. Accordingly there were bombing hits in other provinces to keep the ante up. Considering the ground realities, the war looks a bad one for the US troops. This has been so, particularly since the surge of troops was ordered by President Obama last July. It must be rather discouraging that the Taliban threatened and increased attacks on the foreign troops. No wonder the casualties of the foreign troops mounted along with those among the locals. But the Taliban tend to treat the casualties as a non-issue since they consider it to be the outcome of a jihad against foreign troops. Perhaps, the US wants to cut its losses by eliminating direct engagement with the Taliban while proclaiming not to abandon AfPak. Nevertheless, political sagacity demands calling it to keep the US safe and secure. Many a thinking mind view it as a continuation of the Bush policy inspired by the neo-cons fallacy of The American Century which emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Empire. The US seems to be following Brezi-nskis strategy on Eurasias control for staying as the dominant power in the 21st century. While the people in Asia generally treat this as a moot, the Europeans also have mixed feelings about the same. The Taliban take the US for a capitalist giant dominated by rich lobbies, like the oil lobby, which they hold responsible for 9/11 together with Israel. Even in the US many well-informed circles see the Bush-family linkage with the oil lobby as a suspect; more so, the way shock and awe has been propagated. A genuine veteran like Senator Max Cleland of Georgia had the courage in November 2003 to say that: If this decision stands (to limit the 9/11 Commission access to White House documents), I as a member of the commission, cannot look at any American in the eye, especially family members of victims, and say the commission had full access. This investigation is now compromised. As things get awry, the administrations version of 9/11 is being disputed widely even in the US; particularly in view of Director CIA George John Tenets plea to the 9/11 Commission that throughout the summer of 2001 he had expressed the view, the system was blinking red. Still nobody bothered; not even when the first plane struck the Twin Towers. Why? Karzai started openly looking for reconciliation with, as he calls the Taliban, the estranged brothers with help from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He met a delegation led by Gulbadins son in Kabul. More so, while Obama in Kabul ignored this phenomenon, his Secretary of Defence Robert Gates thought it was probably early for making such gestures. The latter hinted at waiting till the Taliban are driven to accept that they are, in fact, losing. Gates is widely off track, if the Afghan history of even the last nine years is the criterion. While home politics matters a lot to the US administration, clarity of approach is badly needed in dealing with the mess in Afghanistan. The US shall be safe if the Obama administration does not follow Bushs cavalier attitude to other nations defined by his Texan remark: You are either with us or against us. Not knowing much about the world, he got power drunk by the intrigue woven by the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice who all were connected to the rich oil lobby. It is widely believed in Asia, more than in the US, that 9/11 occurred as the Taliban regimes failed to comply with Bushs wish, up to August 2001, that it to oblige the UNOCAL with a pipeline contract. In fact, Bush himself had, reportedly, warned the Taliban of a possible apocalypse. President Obama being a more cultured politician with a flair for statesmanship has to accept the ground realities, particularly after being slighted by the rightwing Jews headed by Netanyahu, on ending the Israeli occupation from Palestine. To project their contempt of the US, the Israeli army keeps committing an atrocity frequently which demeans the former even more, particularly, even in the tutored Muslim world. As such the two-state solution appears to be years away, thanks to the land grabbing Jews of Israel backed by the US lobbies. AfPak can reach a settlement not under duress but as per the hoary traditions. A new negotiated relationship would then emerge which would weld normalcy with peace and development leading to the best guarantee for security The writer is a former interior secretary.