DONALDSON: He wants more troops. But he also publicly says -- and I think he means it -- that he understands the hearts and minds of the people. He understands that we've got to build an infrastructure within the country that makes people want to belong to something else other than the Taliban.
DONALDSON: How do we do that? We weren't able to do it in Vietnam. I don't thing we've done it in Iraq, although I realize that the jury's still out.
HAASS: And then, Sam, how do we do that in Afghanistan?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, correct me if I'm wrong, Richard, but that implies probably a 10- or 20-year effort. It's also a very different goal than the president laid out at least three months ago when he first asked for the troops. He wanted a very narrow goal, which is basically deny Al Qaida a safe haven. Now you're in a big counterinsurgency.
HAASS: This is classic nation-building. We are now in at least a decade-long, possibility a generational struggle to build up the greater Middle East. Pakistan is the scariest place, where there's probably the greatest gap between our interests and our influence.
And the reason, by the way, George, we can put more forces into Afghanistan, Pakistan, is the Pakistanis won't have them. And quite honestly, there we have to hope the Pakistani government essentially fights its own fight. Afghanistan, we have the luxury of putting in forces to build them up and...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew, my question for you is, how much time do you think the public and the Congress are going to give them? The Congress has already signaled, basically, next year we want to see results or we're going to start to pull the plug on funding. How about the public?
DOWD: I think very little time. I think the public is in a position now, their lives are economically in a bad shape. Their health care system they think is broken and nobody's really -- they're all having a screaming and yelling match, and nobody is really getting it done.
Our deficit's out of control. They felt like, when are we going to get the money to do this? So we're going to recommit more troops to Afghanistan. We thought that was dealt with. Now we're going to have to go back and do it.
I think the public has very little patience for more investment of resources and men and women in Afghanistan, very little patience.
ROBERTS: Now, one thing that is true is that, unlike Iraq, we have actually been on the ground in Afghanistan for a long time doing nation-building, doing...
HAASS: Very little, though.
ROBERTS: Well, but -- but if we can protect the people who are there doing it, that is -- that makes a big difference, so that -- that is one function that the military can provide that would be very useful and not that difficult.
DONALDSON: But, of course, NATO is actually running Afghanistan, although we have half the troops there. And we're the fulcrum. We're the central point.
HAASS: With Barack Obama, what might be the biggest problem is these will probably not be his biggest foreign policy challenges over the next year. It's likely to be Iran and its nuclear program and quite possibly Iraq. As U.S. troop withdrawals start to happen, you could begin to see Iraq unravel. It could become an incredibly crowded and difficult national security inbox, just at the same time, all the things we were talking about earlier come to fruition.