A.R. Jerral The diplomatic, military and intelligence activities taking place, in the recent past, in Afghanistan indicate that the real situation is rather grim for the coalition forces. In the absence of any definite information one can assess and draw conclusions from what appears in the press. The high-level military meetings, ISI Chiefs lightening visit to Langley, and a flurry of accusations that the ISI is supporting the Haqqani network all point towards a situation, which indicates that the war is not progressing according to plans. The US is trying desperately to find scapegoats for their failures and pin the blame on someone to cover its failure. The recent NATO-Afghan forces attack on a Pakistani border post in Angoor Adda appears to be an attempt to provide credibility to the suspicions and blames hurled towards Pakistan and the ISI. President Barack Obamas administration is facing an acute dilemma. His presidency has reached its halfway mark. He had ridden to success promising an end of the US war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, one can say that the war has been concluded on a winning note, but Afghanistan has defied all efforts. This is the time that his advisors and campaign managers, for his second term bid, will be planning a re-election strategy; and a successful conclusion of the war effort in Afghanistan will be a positive asset for winning the second term. President Obama did not start this war, but he had the power and authority to end it, as he had promised in his election However, he became a pawn in the hands of the powerful US military-industrial machine. Instead of ending it, he escalated the war to a level that is becoming difficult to sustain. If he fails to end it successfully, the President loses his re-election. At best, he can do is to convince the American that he could have won it, if the other forces had cooperated fully. Only then he may have a fighting chance for the second term. The Obama administration is forgetting that wars are initiated with definite national aims. The wars initiated by President Bush seem to be extravagant adventures started by a shallow man, who could not digest the power potential that he inherited and wanted to demonstrate his power. The reasons for attacking Iraq kept shifting. The assault was to take out the so-called weapons of mass destruction, when none were found; the restoration of democracy became the objective. However, these were all flimsy excuses. The real reason, as it was summed up in a Hollywood action movie by an actor depicting a US Senator seems more accurate: They say it is for democracy, nonsense, its for oil. The war gave the US a complete control over Iraqs oil. The cost of war was offset to a great deal by the exploitation of oil. But why did he attack Afghanistan beats all logic? The excuse offered for the attack on the war-torn country was to defeat the Taliban government, who were accused of harbouring and protecting Osama Bin Laden (OBL). The US air force pulverised the Afghan countryside to create 'awe and fear, but failed to take out OBL and they even do not know if he is alive or dead. The Americans made two gross mistakes: Firstly, they overlooked the Afghan history. The Afghans may be subjected to awe for a limited time, but as time passes they develop an appropriate response to all such ventures. From the earliest Greek invasion to the recent Communist onslaught, the Afghans have displayed remarkable resilience to meet all such challenges. The US and NATO forces are getting the taste of that resilience. Secondly, they have made Al-Qaeda into an 'ideology that, according to them, manifests itself into acts of terrorism. Ideology has no physical boundaries and cannot be defeated by military action. It dies its own death when it does not prove beneficial to the human society. Communism is the recent example of this phenomenon. What Al-Qaeda is supposed to aim for is rather farfetched. It cannot defeat the US/West by disunited acts of terrorism. Invading Afghanistan to defeat Al-Qaeda was surely an irrational decision. Ten years on the war in Afghanistan has not achieved the objectives that Bush and now President Obama had set for themselves. The Afghan resistance had survived for this long and will survive for a longer duration, if the American and NATO presence remains. Changing commands and induction of new talent will make no difference. Unlike Iraq, this country has no resource potential that can offset the cost of war. Moreover, the American economy has been adversely affected by the huge war spending. If financial reports that appear in the Time and the Newsweek are to be believed, the American government is under debt of trillions of dollars and this debt burden will further increase, as the war in Afghanistan drags on. This domestic financial deficit will manifest in price hike, job layoffs and economic downtrend that will not support Obamas bid for re-election. The Democratic losses in the last Congress and Senate elections indicated this trend amply. The US administration should by now have sufficiently realised that the Afghans will not accept any political arrangements thrust on them from the outside. They will accept and follow a political force emerging from within. The Taliban phenomenon has demonstrated that only a Pakhtun-dominated political force will bring peace and stability to this war-torn country, they being the majority stakeholders mattered and will matter in any future arrangement. The Obama administration and its commanders in the field have to approach them to find a lasting solution of the Afghan quagmire. Media reports sometimes indicate that the coalition forces are trying to make conciliatory overtures towards the Talibans. They should increase these efforts and try to bring in a Pakhtun dominant set-up. This will pave the way for Obama to finish the war and bring home the American troops well in time for his re-election. That may tilt the ratings in his favour. If he fails to do that, then he will have very slim chances of staying in the White House. The writer is a freelance columnist.