The Rand Corp political scientist and also author of the book entitled, In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan, Seth Jones, in his latest article, generally, reflects neocon approach to the on-going war. Despite mentioning the disasters that befell the British etc during the last 2 hundred years, he thinks that the adverse situation can be retrieved by a "better understanding of the Afghan insurgency" which could underline how to "exploit its weaknesses." He believes that more time will be required to allow his strategy to show positive results. Hence his feature subject is 'Going the Distance'. Being familiar with Afghanistan's geography, history, culture due to periodic visits there, which include the one in November 2008 to Zabul province, Seth knows the ground realities and has credulous contacts. Newsweek's doomsday projection of Afghanistan ending up as "Obama's Vietnam" may have impelled him to dilate on the subject. Decrying the current hype of despondency in the media about the diminishing chances of a US success, he pleads for the implementation of, generally, General Petraeus' plan of action. This would in a nutshell concentrate on buying the local tribes loyalty as he successfully did in the Sunni triangle in Iraq, particularly in Anbar province. Seth draws the conclusion, quoting Dennis Blair, the new chief of National Intelligence: "Kabul's inability to build effective, honest and loyal provincial and district-level institutions" causes all the problems for the foreign forces. The media, particularly the British, tend to highlight the predicament of the US which is assessed in terms of the Afghan history. Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, last week classified the Afghan crisis as a stalemate. Likewise writing in The Guardian, Johnathan Steele, the veteran journalist who knows this area too well, stresses: " NATO is in a cleft stick and the idea that, unlike Iraq, Afghanistan is the 'right war' is a self-deluding trap." Cherif Bassiouni, is a professor of Law at De Paul University and the former United Nations Human Rights investigator in Afghanistan who got thrown out when he started telling the truth. He endorsed the prevailing paradigm by championing: "There is no military solution in Afghanistan....Right now, the population has nothing to gain by supporting the United States and NATO." The Russians marked the 20th anniversary of their "pullout" of Afghanistan on February 15. An AFP report from Moscow quotes General Gromov, a Russian hero, as saying to Rossiyskaya Gazeta: "I am convinced of one thing. That it is irresponsible to forget about lessons like Afghanistan." Biden's "uptick" or Obama's promised "surge" of US/allied forces may offer some short-term gain, as all pundits tend to agree. However, as President Carter told Amy Goodman, the famous host of the daily show, Democracy Now, that: "I would disagree with Obama as far as a surge that would lead to a more intense bombing of Afghan villages and centres and a heavy dependence on military." As the foreign forces have come under greater threat they have tended to stay in their bunkers and lob missiles etc from the air on suspects etc. More often than not such raids have resulted in heavy civilian casualties causing sharp protests from those at the receiving end. No wonder Holbrooke, the special envoy for the region, told the media in Kabul that the US was launching a "strategic review" of its policy in Afghanistan wherein the later and Pakistan would also participate. Karzai appreciated an agreement made by the parties whereby more of the Afghan forces would be involved in launching raids against suspects and reduce civilian carnage in future. Like all occupation forces, the Americans are, perhaps, unknowingly incurring enmity of those by thousands whose family members get murdered in indiscriminate bombing etc of "suspect" targets. As per the local culture, as this area is not Vietnam, the survivors are bound to avenge such deaths regardless of the timeframe. The only other means of settlement is if the aggressor begs pardon and offers to compensate. Last year was particularly bad for the foreign forces. The extremists, generally, hated while they were in power, soon mended fences with the Pashtun area by challenging the occupation. As Pashtuns are in majority and, as northern warlords had helped the US in the 2001 invasion, the "insurgency" became denominated as a fight for freedom. The callous bombing of civilians have also swelled the ranks of the freedom fighters. Today their situation is like that of the mujahideen till Reagan's administration gave them stinger missiles etc. However, they are making good money from drugs in the style of their northern countrymen. Initially the foreign forces looked the other way to benefit their accomplices or to cultivate the locals. Now it is considered the only way to keep them safe against starvation. In the process, the western consumers are also getting good supplies of heroin etc. The attacks on a government ministry in Kabul, which killed more than twenty persons etc, on the eve of Holbrooke's visit symbolised the widespread mayhem. Due to current insecurity and uncertainty, people stay sharply divided. Edward Joseph writing in The Washington Post after a recent trip to Afghanistan has elaborately portrayed the fractured Afghan society. Wanting to ascertain how the people feel, Edward claims to have questioned the locals frankly about the status quo. He emphasises: "Some said we were killing too many civilians. Others said we were destroying too many villages and should really be guarding the border with Pakistan. Still others insisted that we'd picked the wrong people to run the country." As per the latest US Congressional Report corruption is inflaming the insurgency. The brief also concedes that thereby pessimism prevails, generally, among the people which could influence the forthcoming elections. Kenneth Katzman, the author, adroitly admits: "Predicated on the observation that weak and corrupt governance is causing some Afghans to acquiesce to Taliban insurgents as providers of stability and credible justice." Ostensibly shorn of diplomatic draw up, the brief would appear to be endorsing the Newsweek's appraisal of the impending impasse in Kabul. Seth Jones appears to be crying for the moon. It is well known that the US had a golden opportunity of politically finishing the Taliban in 2002. The fallout of the Bonn Conference was quite a rebuff for the Afghans. Around 2004, the Pashtun area suffered a famine-like condition which aggravated the misery of the people. Moreover, the surrogate regime could not get funds as committed by the donors. This coupled with corruption, indigenous as well as foreigner-related as per UN etc, dashed the chances of success. Some reconstruction effort got going, particularly in the North but the South/East suffered sending signals to the Taliban to reappear on the scene. This they did around 2006 by sabotaging the development activity wherever possible. Since then the Taliban have been on the offensive to make the foreign forces feel that their time is up despite the massive killings etc of Afghans in drone attacks. As a columnist in the LAT-WP News Service was recently told by an Afghan in Kabul: "The Russians, they built big things dams, tunnels, things that employed lots of people, You Americans you don't have one project like this." Now it appears to be as Shakespeare said:" O call back yesterday, bid time return." The writer is a former secretary interior E-mail: imnor@brain.net.pk