Dick Cheney, George W Bush's vice president, struggling to stay on line like Palin, accused the president of 'dithering' over Afghanistan last Wednesday. Appearing to be under a spell of amnesia, he advised the incumbent to "do what it takes to win." He also emphasised that "signals of indecision" in Washington "hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries." Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, also chimed in on Thursday in Texas by blaming the president of creating confusion on the issue. "Republicans have developed a troubling pattern of blaming President Obama for trying to fix all the problems that they created," said Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Armed Services Committee. Likewise, White House press secretary hit back saying: "What Vice President Cheney calls dithering, President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public." He added: "I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously." Cheney was cheesed off, reportedly, by the statements from the administration emphasising that it had to start from the scratch on the Afghan war which was waged since 2001, by fits and starts, by the US and not by the Taliban. Highlighting the shoddy working of the Ancient Regime, Gibbs confided, "given the fact that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's, for more than eight months, a resource request filled by President Obama in March." It also occasioned a controversy about the nature of briefing on the subject given by the out-going to the in-coming transition team. The overall impression is that the Republicans, generally, tend to criticise Obama while the Democrats, despite the cleavage about the new strategy, tend to back their leader. Some consideration was shown by the Senator Lamar Alexander and R-Tenn by stressing on MSNBC: "I think President Obama is entitled to take sufficient time to decide what our long-term role ought to be in Afghanistan, I want him to take the time to get it right." Shorn of party politics, the fact remains that Afghanistan is turning into a quagmire for the US with the Taliban gaining a distinct upper-hand since 2006. The ground realities appear to have become more depressing with the order of a run-off on November 07 of the presidential election in the aftermath of a rather disreputable exercise held in August. General McChrystal, who replaced McKiernan, has put up a new strategy to reverse the situation in Afghanistan. He was advised by General Petraeus to define the goal and link the strategy to the same. In sum, the general wants more troops to be able to follow new tactics for winning 'the hearts and minds' of the people. This is to be achieved by shifting the focus from 'force protection' to providing security to the Afghans. It also expects greater interaction between the troops and the people in their lingo to foster goodwill. The White House is currently seized of this vital problem. President Obama forced a run-off on Karzai to give the election process some respectability besides improving the image of the winner. If the Taliban are not able to repeat their attacks like it happened in August, some good may be the result thereof. Obama has been having feverish consultations with his security officials to finalise the new strategy to be followed in Afghanistan. As is well known, the Democrats are divided on the matter. Joe Biden wants reducing US involvement but would like to resort to extensive drone attacks on the insurgents to cripple their fighting capacity. Secretary Defence Gates is also wary of increasing US footprints in Afghanistan, perhaps being conscious of its history. The Republicans, generally, want to win the war at all costs despite having failed themselves since 2001. As usual, a certain lobby arranged leaks through The Washington Post to pressurise the president who had to advise caution to all concerned. The people appear to be getting fed up with a war which portends danger and defeat for the US. While the US army was trying two different war exercises about Afghanistan under the supervision of Admiral Mullen and his colleagues to regain lost ground in the war, last weekend and Monday proved to be dreadful for the US. One helicopter was brought down in Badghis/north-west, allegedly by Taliban, killing 11 soldiers. In addition, a mid-air between the helicopters collision caused the death of four more in South. MSNBC holds October to be keeping up the trend of mounting US casualties which started with August at 51. The Taliban had vowed to launch more attacks to frustrate the elections in August and by now 46 American troops have already been killed. Moreover, Kabul also saw repeated demonstrations on Sunday against the US by the University students to protest against the alleged desecration and burning of the Holy Quran by the foreign troops in Wardak. The protestors hurled stones on police and burnt an effigy of Obama amid slogans of "Death to America", "Death to Israel". Despite official denials, the 'rumours' saw such uproar also in Kunar and Paktia. In a religious society such stuff can play havoc with the foreign forces. Furthermore, President Obama expressed his grief over the US losses but refused to 'rush' in to a decision about the new strategy. He continued his deliberations which also involved Karl W Eikenberry, and Anne W Patterson; US Ambassadors in Kabul and Islamabad. By taking such a stand, he would have smashed the likes of Cheney while winning the goodwill of run-of-mill Americans. Incidentally, Fareed Zakaria in Washington Post also advocated caution. The US appears to be paying for the sins of Israel besides its own mistakes as resentment builds up against her. Al-Qaeda portrayed the US as being an 'enemy of Muslims'. The 'occupation' of Iraq on the pretext of WMD, now widely believed for oil, and Afghanistan have killed over a million of the local people. While the former is very insecure, the latter has a war on against occupation, generally, by the Pashtuns. Even Pakistan has got involved in a big way, thanks to the success of Taliban in Afghanistan. The costs are horrendous which, generally, are passed on to the common people by default and poor governance. Secretary Clinton, presently, is on a three-day visit Pakistan probably to explain the 'new strategy'. One hopes that the United States would heed Prince Turki al-Faisal' tips The writer is a former secretary interior.