John O Brennen, Obama's top advisor on counter-terrorism expounded the new approach against Al-Qaeda etc in an address to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies last week. Despite serious challenges being faced by his boss, he asserted, Obama treated keeping the American people safe as the 'single most important responsibility as president." Recounting his professional experience, he pointed out how the last administration failed to circumvent 9/11 despite having prior info. He disapproved of the tactics like water-boarding etc utilised to fight terrorism which had been abandoned by Obama as the same were against "our values." Such practices aided the enemy in winning more recruits and induced other countries to avoid helping the US. Having studied in Cairo later served/travelled in many Muslim countries including as a CIA station chief in the Middle East, he was cognisant of the "diversity of Islam." As such he had seen the adverse shift in Muslim mood vis--vis US. Being familiar with the Muslim modes/methodology, like his president and unlike the boorish neo-cons/George W, his modus operandi stays sophisticated and strategic while dealing with security issues etc. No wonder, "the inflammatory rhetoric, hyperbole, and intellectual narrowness" of the loonies hurts him. Despite facing an Afghanistan ambush which could make Vietnam look like a joyride, Obama, being the perfectionist, declines "an absolutist approach or the imposition of a rigid ideology on our problems." Understandably a new policy framework is at work now for ensuring security of the American people in three ways. First, the president genuinely holds Al-Qaeda and its allies to be the major threat despite the rumblings to the contrary. His conviction is proved by his quote from the Cairo speech: "These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with." So he is on the attack in Afghanistan. US is doing everything possible with the help of its partners to destroy the enemy. Obama praised Pakistan which after facing " unrelenting brutality from Al-Qaeda and its allies, has shown new resolve in this fight-we are confronting Al-Qaeda directly, inflicting significant losses to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda." He is also working on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to eliminate the danger of such an attack on the US by Al-Qaeda etc. In addition US' capability in military technology, intelligence-collection, safeguarding of vital infra-structure is being constantly upgraded and zealously monitored by the concerned agencies. Second, starting with a clear focus, the administration has trained all its guns on the terrorists. It does not want to call them jihadists which gives them a status among Muslims. As casting aspersions against Muslims provokes resentment against the US, Obama has rightly declared that "America is not and never will be at war with Islam." Moreover, Obama believes that terrorism is an objective-oriented course and he concludes that Al-Qaeda wants to seize power over Muslims. Therefore while applying optimal force to fight terrorism, one must remember that the US can't kill everyone of them. Terrorism is also the product of social, economic and political conditions prevailing in a society. If US wants a complete victory, it shall have to successfully cure such ills. That way US will promote goodwill for itself and the negative image being by the terrorists. As such the political involvement is as important as is the combat operations against terrorism. Third, while US pursues its objective of defeating terrorism, we will not compromise on our moral ascendancy a la her "values". Winning should not come by limiting our own freedom or malpractices which make us look us like our enemies. In hindsight one can easily make out how the US missed many opportunities in Afghanistan. If pre-9/11 intelligence had been heeded, the tragedy could be averted. Moreover if the Taliban's ouster had not been treated as their political death, alliances could have been forged with "good Taliban." This would have saved many American lives besides billions of greenbacks. A similar outcome could have been achieved if the war was diligently followed in Afghanistan instead of 'WMD' concoction a la Iraq. Many people believe in Asia that Iraq war was launched to benefit the oil-lobby and 'the Military-Industrial Complex', as defined by President Eisenhower in 1960. As George W and many leading neo-cons were connected with the lobbies, the pilferage of Iraqi oil along-with the depredations of MNC like Halliburton etc provide leads to a likely cover-up. As the cost of war rises in terms of military casualties as well as financial expenditure, a new policy is being worked out by the Centcom in conjunction with other departments. Brennen's above account advises of one viable option as the US can't desert the area like she did in 1990 following the collapse of the Soviet Empire. A few billion $ invested then could have saved the mayhem ensued. Thanks to the adventurism of neo-cons, the US is in a soup. George W' years have created Albatrosses like Gitmo, Abu Ghuraib, Bagram, and atrocities at home and abroad which would be difficult to defend if a trial is held. Such monstrosities ruined US' image besides hurting the democratic system which had remained its hallmark. Obama, being a brilliant man, understood how his country had been harmed in the last eight years. Accordingly he is doing the fire-fighting at home besides launching a broad-based strategic warfare-cum-diplomatic surge to redeem the US. General McChrystal told WSJ this week that the Taliban were gaining sway as was proved by the death-toll of foreign troops in July. "It's a very aggressive enemy right now. We have got to stop their movement, stop their initiative. It's hard work." The media is awash with speculation a rise in US forces and, if possible, from other countries as well. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of Armed Services Committee last week urges the same by saying: "Let us not Rumsfeld Afghanistan." General James Jones, US National Security Advisor, pooled in by his comment: "This is not just a US problem. This is an international problem." He also talked of reviewing the current strategy after a year. Senator Graham, however, cautioned all by drawing the bottom-line: "If Afghanistan becomes a chaotic situation it affects Pakistan. So we're going to need everything. My message to my Democratic colleagues is that we made mistakes in Iraq." US appear conscious of the strategic/pivotal role of Pakistan which carry consequent costs for her. IDP in doldrums is a great hazard. Poor governance can create new monsters and revive the dying ones. US must move fast to finance fairly their rehabilitation through transparent implementation of the process by people with known integrity. The federal government, at times, is pilloried for the failures of others. As Sayeed and Jacob put it in Tuesday's local English daily: "Government legitimacy is, to say the least, shaky. Everybody feels that they are on their own. That despair-far more so than armed militants-is not only a disturbing feeling-but a danger." This portends peril for PPP. In Afghanistan, the 'silver bullet' may work but shorn of 'occupation'. A popular Pashtun proverb invokes: "Oh fight, fight Warm up, warm up." Olaf Caroe' dictum : Pashtuns don't duck, decidedly against foreigners. The writer is a former secretary interior. E-mail: immohsin/