Despite seven years of fighting, the lives of more than 600 U.S. servicemen and women, and billions of dollars in aid, Afghan opinions of the United States and their own government have dramatically deteriorated, according to the latest ABC News polling.
In 2005, with liberation from the Taliban still fresh, 83 percent of Afghans had a favorable view of the United States. Today, with widespread violence and staggeringly slow redevelopment, it has plunged to 47 percent.
Asked whether their country is moving in the right direction, only 40 percent say yes, compared to 77 percent four years ago.
The results are from an exclusive national survey produced by ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV. Pollsters interviewed more than 1,500 Afghans in all 34 of the country's provinces.
From the back alleys of Kandahar to the mountains of the Hindu Kush to the streets of Kabul, Afghan pollsters have seen profound pessimism across the country.
In interview after interview, the Afghan population expressed little hope for the future, coupled with rising fears for their immediate safety.
Lailoma Karimi, 35, lives in a primitive but spotless home in Kabul with her husband and three children. She has no access to clean drinking water, only firewood for heat and limited electricity -- 55 percent of Afghans have none. But her biggest concern is security.
"From the time I was a little kid the fighting [was] going on, and it is going on till now," she said through a translator. She fled to Iran because of the security, but says that now that she's back, the situation is Kabul is acceptable, but outside the city, "it's gotten worse."
"We have never seen a peaceful day; we are worried about our kids' future, what will happen to them because there is no security at all." Karimi said children stay home from school because of the situation.
It is no wonder there is growing concern. Even though the United States has been in Afghanistan for more than seven years, this past year has been the most dangerous since 2001.
Attacks are up more than 40 percent in some areas, while suicide bombings and roadside bombs are up 26 percent. The Taliban is moving ever closer to Afghanistan's capital, and a U.S. brigade has just arrived to try to stop them.
"We need to improve the security situation in Afghanistan in a very real way, and we also need to improve the perception of security in the minds of the Afghan people," U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark Milley told ABC News. "No question about it, that is clearly their number one priority in their minds."
Milley said the deterioration of security in the country -- perceived or not -- makes for a "tough situation."
"The enemy has clearly bounced back a little bit" since international forces ramped up their presence in the region, he said. "On the other hand, the Afghan army has improved a lot since then; the Afghan police, although not as good as the Afghan army, they've improved as well. And international forces have increased."