As President Barack Obama seeks a way to end more than seven years of fighting, US wizard Richard Holbrooke outlined to NATO the new strategy to beat insurgents in Afghanistan. On Monday, he met NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and 26 ambassadors in Brussels, as the alliance battles a massive challenge posed by the Taliban and their backers. He also met some senior EU officials, as Washington urges greater efforts from its partners to bring peace to the turbulent land. The talks were the last before a "big tent" international meeting on Afghanistan in Holland on March 31, when Washington's strategy for tackling a problem fuelling international extremism would be unveiled. The Taliban were ousted in 2001, yet NATO has still been struggling to spread Kabul's hold across a country that has been a sanctuary for the Al-Qaeda fighters and Taliban that control three-fourth of the country. The situation is worst today, when it shouldn't be, because the US and its allies prematurely declared that they were successfully accomplishing their mission in Afghanistan and refocused their attention on Iraq. This was a historical blunder, as twice in the last 20 years, the US has turned away from Afghanistan in 1989 (after the fall of the USSR) and again in March 2003, when they invaded Iraq on flimsy grounds. Like the mission in Afghanistan, the Iraq mission still remained in doldrums after six years; they suddenly realised that it was time to augment their forces in Afghanistan where the situation had become critical. There already are more than 60,000 US-led troops in Afghanistan and more are on the way. Washington plans to send another big posse of 17,000 to rescue the beleaguered alien and indigenous Afghan troops. This is a tremendous historical dilemma that the power-drunk Bush's administration altogether ignored. However, Afghanistan, in its over 2,000 years of history has never been ruled by alien rulers. Whosoever came to conquer Afghanistan was badly mauled and battered by the valiant tribes inhabiting the most difficult battleground and had to quit in disgrace. And this would be the ultimate fate of the US-led forces in this unforgiving land. Ahead of March 31, conference on Afghanistan, Iran's Foreign Minister Mottaki, who was on a visit to Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan for talks with Afghan and Tajik counterparts, said that the West must respect the will and the traditions of the people of Afghanistan. Iran has specifically been invited by Washington to attend the Hague parleys; but has not so far confirmed or refused its participation. After failing to make any headway during the last seven years, the US and its allies have finally understood that the military option has brought about no positive results in Afghanistan. While the Obama administration trumpets that the problems of the region cannot be solved by military means, the basic approach has been reliance on heightened military actions. A week back, 14 members of the Congress (eight Democrats, six Republicans) sent a letter to Obama urging him to 'reconsider' his order regarding deploying 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The letter lays down a clear line of opposition to the rationales for stepping up the warfare. "If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counterproductive," says the letter. And it further warns: "Any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan. This could very well lead to dangerous destabilisation in the region and would increase hostility towards the United States." The overall situation remains an unsatisfactory way to conduct a war. Somehow, Barack Obama for some misconceived reasons has decided that he too will be a war president like his predecessor George W Bush and his victory would mean a triumph in Afghanistan; although this was not part of the initial evaluation, Pakistan as well, or so it seems now. What the NATO countries don't need is an expanded NATO or American war in central and South Asia. If, or when General Petraeus comes around to NATO HQ in Kabul and says: "Look guys, the time has come for the bunch of you to shape up or ship out." They might as well reply: "Sir, our bags are packed. It's been grand working with you, but take our parting advice. There's no future for any European soldier in this country." The disturbing question is; can President Obama win in Afghanistan? By the year 2010, the Afghan conflict would become the longest war in American history. Is it a quagmire that Obama should extricate himself from while there is still time? The answer to the last question is yes. Leave aside domestic politics as the strategic stakes are very high if the war extends to Pakistan and other central Asian countries. The two major stakeholders in the region are China and Russia, who would certainly react to thwart US hegemonic strategy in the region that could lead to the Third World War and a certain apocalypse. There are some very serious risks involved, should Obama approve the full military build up his commanders are asking for. What the Afghans resent the most is the presence of aliens who want to colonise their country and make their lives miserable. Polls and private conversations suggest that they are agnostic about foreigners who want to stay just long enough to help them establish a viable state, viable military and police institutions and a stronger economy, and then leave. Anti-Americanism is indeed worsening in Afghanistan today, and that is the real problem. In fact Afghanistan is a country with volatile collection of allegiance shifting tribes, ethnic groups and warlords. President Obama's new strategy could be called the Afghanisation of the Afghan War, which sounds too much like the colossal failure, crafted by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, called the Vietnamisation of the Vietnam War. It amounts to dumping the entire screwed up mess on the home country military; instead of US troops "doing the killing and the dying," it would have the home troops to do the killing and dying. Obama has announced an increase of 4,000 US trainers for Afghanistan to double the size of the Afghan army and police. Some of these trainers are already working in FATA area of Pakistan. Yet, like Vietnam it could be too late in Afghanistan. Will the US training and mentoring of Afghan troops and police will hold the fort after it vacates its occupation, or would it collapse like a stack of cards as soon as the US troops blow out of the country. The situation wouldn't be too much different on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line. With all the troops US can gather from around the world, it would be a loser; because Afghan history is against it. The Afghans can fight long-drawn wars stretched over much longer periods. The British Empire and the USSR had a bitter taste of it in the 19th and 20th centuries. These were the wars that the British and the Soviets lost, and so would be the Americans. The writer is a former inspector general of Police