The world we live in is a dangerous one growing more so by the day. The post War stability with the US and Soviet Union as two nuclear powers keeping the peace for fear of mutual destruction has given ways since the collapse of the Berlin to one single superpower.
World peace remained undisturbed until that American advantaged was mindlessly weakened by a series of bad Washington decisions mainly taken by George Bush. They ranged from from an expensive war against Iraq, disingenuously sold to the world as a war of necessity, to the country degrading its balance sheets to the point of near bankruptcy saved only by Chinese, Japan and Russia, just to name 3, accepting US debts, or IOU's.
Now, it is not clear what Obama may or may not do in Afghanistan. He would be wise to seek a speedy withdrawal even if that meant Talibans taking over the government. Yes, they are primitive, brutal, medieval and anti women. But unless the US could win the "hearts and minds" of the people to fight with the West, that battle, as General McChrystal has admitted, is essentially lost. See my blog yesterday.
Let's be honest. Afghanistan is NOT a war of necessity if that meant the national security of the US is clearly at stake as in WWII.
It is of course entirely desirable to have an Afghanistan become a modern, democratic country sharing the values and policies you and I would like in our own countries.
Saudi Arabia, a staunch US ally whose princes and princesses are mostly educated in the UK and in the US and yet the country remains a medieval, anti-women society that no Western country can change nor does the US make any attempt to do so.
Yes, I know Oil is the issue. But when even Saudi Arabia cannot change on its own, and Saudi is a much richer and more open society than Afghanistan, would sending more troops to Afghanistan be useful?
Nothing I have read suggests the US or any outside country can influence Afghanistan's own internal development. Not even Pakistan.
Now US is about to launch more sanctions against Iran. Read this. But sanctions are futile if you don't get China and Russia onboard. They are nowhere to be found because their global interests are now the same.
US is overstretched. It has still not adjusted to the reality that its financial and economic strengths can no longer support its unipolar geopolitical, military peace keeping role it got used to since WWII.