Link to website Aired about a week prior to the election, the gist of this program was to present to the viewer the list of options that the next President will have with respect to moving forward in Afghanistan. As always with Frontline, while the video itself is great the website and all of its associated background is incredible. What was striking about the program is that it reflects the new trend to stop talking about the situation in Afghanistan in isolation. A lot of the hour was dedicated to Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban, the and state of Pakistani politics. The footage of US troops in combat in Afghanistan was almost a backdrop to discussion of the great power politics in play between the US, India, and Pakistan. There was some discussion on the role that the Iraq War had on diverting resources away from Afghanistan. Certainly with only two brigade combat teams in Afghanistan it is clear that any military resources tied up in Iraq cannot be reprogrammed for Afghanistan overnight. However, in the interview with the former State Department Counter-terrorism Coordinator he makes the interesting point that between 2002-2004/2005 there was a security lull. Large numbers of ground forces were not really needed then, as the Taliban had yet to regroup and begin trying to reassert itself. At that point, what was required was a more comprehensive soft power approach that could have solidified the gains won during the first phase of OEF, when the Taliban fled to the hills facing a sizeable amount of coalition firepower. Unfortunately, we didn't do that, and starting in 2006 the Taliban began making inroads. This reminded me of what happened in Iraq where we had a few months of relative calm after the fall of the regime, and almost a full year where we retained significant freedom of action, but for reasons beyond the scope of this thread, we squandered it until finally things spiraled nearly out of control. This led to an interesting discussion of how poorly the US national security establishment is structured in order to engage the world in the 21st Century. Let me just quote the interview: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warbriefing/interviews/crumpton.html Also relevant is the leaking of a National Intelligence Estimate stating that the situation in Afghanistan "is in a downward spiral". link Unfortunately for the forthcoming Obama administration it looks like time is running out. A distressing part of the Frontline documentary was when one of the interviewees flat out stated that the US is currently at the point where the Soviets were in 1988, and like them has to decide whether we want to win by doubling (more like quintupling) down or to get out. However, with 140,000 troops tied down in Iraq, a diplomatic corps only recently authorized to begin expanding its ranks, and a financial crises putting stress on the public purse, there might not be enough to double down with come 2009.