NEW YORK - The presidential election in Afghanistan evoked widespread comments from US political leaders, foreign policy experts and the media, but while hailing the largely peaceful polls, they appeared confused about what United States' future course of action should be in that war-torn country. The election was a test for President Barack Obama's new strategy aimed at reversing Taliban gains. US combat casualties have risen amid a U.S. troop buildup, and opinion polls have shown weakening American public support for the war. President Obama said on Thursday the Afghanistan election appeared to have been a success, despite what he said were the efforts of Taliban militants to disrupt it. The White House said Afghans had turned out to vote in large numbers despite threats of violence, and US policy in the 8-year-old war would not change in the aftermath of Afghanistan's presidential election. But the Afghan elections has set off a debate on whether US should stay and fight in Afghanistan or leave completely. Writing in the New York Times, Richard Haass, a former senior State Department official and president of the Council on Foreign relations, picked on President Obama's recent speech to US veterans that the conflict in Afghanistan was not a war of choice, but a war of necessity. "If Afghanistan were a war of necessity, it would justify any level of effort. It is not and does not. It is not certain that doing more will achieve more," he wrote in a op-ed piece in The New York Times. "(N)o one should forget that doing more in Afghanistan lessens our ability to act elsewhere, including North Korea, Iran and Iraq. There needs to be a limit to what the United States does in Afghanistan and how long it is prepared to do it, lest we find ourselves unable to contend with other wars, of choice or of necessity, if and when they arise," he said. Alternatively, Haass laid out the following points for Obama's consideration: "[T]here are alternatives to current American policy. One would reduce our troops' ground-combat operations and emphasize drone attacks on terrorists, the training of Afghan police officers and soldiers, development aid and diplomacy to fracture the Taliban. "A more radical alternative would withdraw all United States military forces from Afghanistan and center on regional and global counterterrorism efforts and homeland security initiatives to protect ourselves from threats that might emanate from Afghanistan." But some experts said a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan is hard to imagine, especially after President Obama's initial commitment, but a major draw-down framed as a strategic shift is foreseeable. In fact, Obama left the door open to such a dramatic pivot in his most recent remarks, saying that "Going forward, we will constantly adapt our tactics... And at every step of the way, we will assess our efforts to defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies..." Ralph Peters, a military expert writing in the conservative New York Post also failed the clear confusion about what the U.S. should do next-- whether to stay or pullout. "(W)hat does the Obama administration hope to do in Afghanistan', he asked. "Establish a stable democracy in a land where blood vendettas last for centuries and tribal loyalties trump all? Force a secular constitution on a society that prefers religious law? Develop a modern economy where running water is a rarity? Why? Peters said, "Even if we achieved each of those goals, would the result be worth the cost in blood, money and time? Don't we have better things to do with our strategic capital? Al Qaeda is a global franchise -- yet we're concentrating our investment on the Taliban, the equivalent of a local chain of blacksmith shops. "If it were only a matter of wasted tax dollars, that would be bad enough. But our troops suffer grievous wounds or die because neither the Bush nor the Obama administrations did the basic calculations you'd do before buying shares in a mutual fund. And no, we're not too big to fail. Our troops can beat the Taliban every time, and we can remain in Afghanistan as long as we want, but where's the return on our investment? "It isn't enough to claim, as President Obama has done, that Afghanistan's vital to our national security. It isn't. Neither he nor his befuddled advisers can explain convincingly what the payoff will be for investing more blood and treasure. "Our confusion about strategic ends and means made a bloody mess of Vietnam, but at least we could cite a hold-the-line-against-Communism rationale back then. In Somalia, we ran a bait-and-switch on ourselves -- going in to save lives, then staying to prop up an imaginary state. Our one recent strategic investment with a high potential payoff -- the removal of Saddam Hussein -- got botched so badly that the return is frustratingly low... "Well, some fights work out, some don't. What's wrong with stating publicly that Afghanistan just ain't worth it? We shouldn't leave Afghanistan entirely. But we need to balance our investment with the potential return, maintaining a compact, lethal force to continue killing our enemies..."