A leaked report offers a bleak assessment of the challenges facing Afghanistan - and a timetable for possible failure. General Stanley McChrystal heavily criticises the way NATO forces have operated until now, saying that they had been "pre-occupied" with their own security and have distanced themselves from the Afghan population "physically and psychologically". Put simply, Gen McChrystal acknowledges that the US could lose this war in the next 12 months.
In the coming weeks, Gen McChrystal is expected to ask for as many as 30,000 extra US forces, but he also points out that this conflict will not be won by the military alone. Whilst the military can offer security, it cannot provide jobs, health facilities, and opportunities for children to go to school. That is the job of the Afghan government, which, Gen McChrystal states is riddled with corruption and commands little support from the Afghan population.
Gen McChrystal that the UN and the international community must do more to persuade, and help, the Afghan government to provide better services and rule of law for their people. It may take "generations" before the country sees effective governance and it is this issue that is being successfully exploited by the Taliban who are growing in influence and controlling larger parts of the country, where they have set up "shadow governments" such as Shariah courts that offer quick justice. It is this, that ultimately what this conflict will boil down to. Who will the Afghans themselves choose? Will the Afghans decide to support their government (backed by the West,) or will they, in the end, decide to side with the Taliban?
adapted from this BBC Report