SENATOR John McCain, Republican leader and former presidential rival of President Obama, has strongly supported General McChrystal's call for more US troops in Afghanistan, warning against indecisiveness with the words, "time is not on our side". He misses the point, actually: time has already run out for the Americans, if at all it was ever on their side. And so is his analogy between Iraq and Afghanistan, to justify the surge, wide of the mark. Afghanistan is a different kettle of fish and a trickier one to handle. In any case, even in Iraq the surge failed to bring back the cohesion of the country and harmony among ethnic and religious groups of the days of Saddam Hussein. All it succeeded in was wreaking greater havoc by indiscriminate bombing and killing of civilians on no firmer evidence than suspicion, that Senator McCain blithely calls 'inkblot strategy". His explanation of this strategy, "you go into the populated areas, you clear out the bad guys...that's what we did in Iraq, and that's the classic counterinsurgency," clearly brings out the method, which anyone can see would be no different from being ruthless. Reverting to Afghanistan, one might counsel American leaders to first have a look at the ground realities in the country and then decide on a course of action rather than apply formulas that would not fit in there. The surge would further complicate matters already brought to a boil by frequent and large civilian casualties since increased military action would cause the loss of more innocent lives. The fund of hatred, particularly against the Americans, would grow. Besides, to 'defeat' the Taliban, the foreign troops are up against not only the Pushtun community, the majority ethnic group in the country, but also the entire population views them as an occupying force. Afghans by nature, with history as the guide, are fiercely independent and would not be susceptible to pressure. The only way is the way out. That is precisely what the strategists sitting in Washington should be planning. An honourable exit would stipulate a holistic approach, with a marked accent on what their leaders are fond of calling, 'winning the hearts and minds of the people'. It would not be easy in a milieu replete with enmity and distrust. Yet, the injection of more soldiers would worsen the climate. Instead, there should be visible acts of undoing the damage the invasion has caused, countrywide reconstruction and rehabilitation, reduction in the fighting forces and a deadline for departure.