Since the big Latino Show on the White House lawn, and some State Dinner party-crashing, the Tiger missing an easy shot around a fire hydrant, I thought there might be some connections to the War in Afghanistan. Yesterday night after 200 assessments of the situation, President Obama gave Afghanistan his best shot.

A bit of déjà vu like Bush at Annapolis for starters, dragged into a full blown time warp. Not hearing anything new as in the Bush Standard in how to win the War on Terror, I was fidgeting, half expecting Rumsfeld to take the stage and liven things up a bit.

If the war is winnable we've got twin it. When you're down, you raise the stakes--(cell phone rings) Right. And stay the course!

What about cashing out? Turn the whole thing over to the UN? Where was all that electrifying Obama spin on reality? Not there, not even reflected from his audience, respectful and subdued but missing the old Obama. The Obama recap of the war with no fresh insights, disappointing. No one totally sure what happened with all the self-serving justifications of a gung-ho Bush era or why we're still there 8 years later. Where was Obama's easy Latino beat? Easier to throw a party or crash one. Harder to get things done.

OK, if the Taliban ran a hard line Islamic State, like Iran, like Saudi, wasn't that their business? Once upon a time they weren't the bad guys. They were popular in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Started by an idealistic group of Afghan students with the backing of the mujaheddin who fought the Russians, supported then by America. Trying to rebuild a war-torn Afghanistan. Stopped the opium War Lords and banned opium farms. Back then who ever heard of them? Who helped them?

Looks like Americans are fighting the wrong war again. Now another 30,000 soldiers to fight the Taliban. Al Qaeda too, but where are they in such a vast inhospitable wilderness of high mountains, snow and desert? Will 30,000 more Americans find them all? If they are still in Afghanistan? The Taliban though are everywhere and the easy target. They're fighting. Opium is back and so are the War Lords. The Taliban are behind it, is the conventional view. Maybe they are or maybe like the Americans and NATO they're turning a blind eye, while fighting for their lives. There's a war on.

All the Taliban ever did was provide safe-haven for Al Qaeda. According to the Bush Doctrine those who harbor enemies are enemies. So we get them all! Well just what kind of harboring was that? Like Iraqis harboring Saddam, or like harboring a brother the police are after?

Isn't Pakistan doing the same thing? Harboring Al Qaeda and the Taliban? Not officially, but sympathetically and effectively? They're all Muslims after all. Is paying informers, is blood money working? Somewhat.

Should America invade Pakistan then? The logical next step. Obama wouldn't do that but what if the war drags on? Past Obama into Palin territory?

Obama wants the war over by 2011, a colossal job. He's counting on something else besides fighting, a bit of sanity delivered into the mix of his low key speech at West Point. Work towards co-opting the Taliban, in effect get them on our side. Which translates into buying them off. At this stage you can't get their real support as you've been smashing them for 8 years for what exactly? And destroying house by house what's left of their country. Is this a workable plan? Looks modest and very long term, something for another generation of Afghans and Americans. Wasn't Obama elected for leadership? Then why not take a quick and effective approach? Turn over Afghanistan to the UN? There's a good chance it will work, an honorable American exit, honorable for the Taliban too, the war finally over for everyone. Isn't that the UN's job anyway, to keep the peace?

Of course in this war the Taliban will pocket American peace dollars, but what will they do with them? What's Karzai doing with his? Not much progress everyone says. Obama wants more money for the Afghan Army, the Afghan Police. Way more soldiers, way more police. Who's side are they on? Many in it for themselves at least, in a lawless and dangerous land where official corruption and abuse of power is once again a way of life. Of course they need better training. I almost fell off my chair! Are we on the same page, in the same world?

By the same token what's happening in Iraq now? Same sort of thing, Obama's Taliban strategy a leaf from lessons learned in Iraq as it happens. Though it seems to be working in Iraq on the surface at least, except Iraqi infrastructure is a war-torn mess, and very high unemployment undermines what forced American Armed Forces stability there is. Just how much goodwill is there left that Americans truly enjoy, indeed in the entire Middle East? Enough for an end to terror and a real peace?

Little enough as we'll find out once Americans leave. Or will they? Is yes we can now yes maybe we can? The unpleasant reality is two Arab countries wrecked. Who is to blame? Stability in any case remains a dream. If most Iraqis didn't like Saddam, most now don't like Americans either, their lives still in ruins, everywhere the shadow of more terror around the corner. Terrorists and bombs, but also official corruption and abuse, police you can't trust, police you fear, and more and more crime on the streets in the crossfire of war. In Afghanistan it's worse. There was no corrupt regime to begin with. Just a backward-looking Islamic State, not despotic but legitimate, not initially anti-American, just ultra-conservative, looking to revitalize itself.

If Obama follows through on his forced pacification of Afghanistan with some more American troops and dollars to grease the wheels, will it work?

Not unless he knows the Arabs better. These are a passionate people from the Middle Ages. They're nurture their grudges and their pain and fight again. Unless they get honorable terms.

But Obama's plan is better than trying to kill every last American enemy. For every dead martyr as Bush saw, another dozen martyrs rise. Even during World War II, was it the goal of the Allies to eliminate every last German soldier, every last Japanese soldier to win the war? Or eliminate even those who harbored them, their wives, their children?

It might also be useful to find out why a handful of Arab terrorists, largely from Saudi, attacked the US anyway? Even Bin Laden hasn't told us yet.

To stop the war shouldn't we find out why everybody is fighting?

--Alan Gillis