Despite the favourable outcome of the Second World War for the allies, the then superpower, Great Britain, emerged with a tarnished image. It was no longer perceived as the invincible imperial power that its colonies had imagined it to be. Similarly, the two dominant superpowers of the Cold War era had their Vietnam and Afghanistan that accentuated their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The War On Terror era has, once again, provided the world with a glimpse of the vulnerability of the sole superpower in the form of an economic recession that is being compared in intensity to the Great Depression. 3.2 million Americans have lost their jobs. In January this year alone the tally rose by 598,000. As a result, the US economy will lose approximately $1 trillion in demand in 2009 followed by a similar amount next year. To reverse this vicious cycle, the Obama administration has initiated an Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will inject approximately $800 billion into the economy despite inheriting a deficit of over $ 1 trillion from the previous administration. Yet, despite these daunting figures, 30,000 more troops are being sent to Afghanistan. At the moment this may be the only viable solution, however, if a more imaginative and multi-layered strategy is not pursued then the duration of this war could well surpass Obama's tenure as president, even if he is re-elected and further burden the American economy. The new US special envoy, Richard Holbrooke stated at an international security conference in Germany that Afghanistan "is like no other problem we have confronted, and in my view it's going to be much tougher than Iraq." He also said: "I have never seen anything remotely resembling the mess we have inherited." Afghanistan continues to be the epicentre of the War On Terror and regional collaboration is the best option that needs to be developed. Recent statements from Washington seem to endorse such a strategy involving Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. President Obama, in his first press conference from the White House, succinctly mentioned the opportunities and threats emanating from Pakistan. He said that while "concerted efforts to root out those (Al-Qaeda/Taliban) safe havens," were not apparent, however, "the new government of Pakistan...cares deeply about getting control of the situation, and we want to be effective partners with them on that issue." Similar sentiments about strengthening the democratically elected government in Pakistan and promotion of "economic development and opportunity throughout the country," were expressed by Vice President Joe Biden, Senator John Kerry and Richard Holbrooke. Diplomatic overtures may also be a part of a revised Iran policy being considered by Washington. Barack Obama has mentioned "constructive dialogue" as an option as well as the possibility of development of a relationship of "mutual respect and progress." NATO has also been weighing the option of redirecting its supply route through Iran. The Taliban/Al-Qaeda elements in Afghanistan, however, despite their pre-9/11 hostility towards Iran have come round to looking at Tehran as a possible ally because of the latter's tension-ridden equation with Washington after the Iranian revolution. The recent pronouncements from Washington about the possibility of establishing a dialogue with Tehran is fraught with difficulties as the two countries have not had diplomatic ties since 1979 despite their interaction with each other in multi-national forums such as the Six plus Two mechanism, initiated by Pakistan, in 1997 to promote an intra-Afghan dialogue between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. On Afghanistan, Washington needs to recognise that the Karzai administration is inefficient, corrupt and weak, thereby, further exacerbating the turmoil in the war-ravaged country. The nexus between drug barons, local warlords and corrupt government officials has provided an environment for militants to flourish in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The fallout is the uninhibited cross-border flow of drugs, illegal funds and weapons. This was also recognised by President Obama when he stated that the "national (Afghan) government seems very detached from what's going on in the surrounding community." While regional cooperation is the most logical solution, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan need to overcome their trust deficit and establish effective interaction with each other. National interests and internal dynamics have to harmonise for the sake of regional stability. Furthermore, cognisance has to be taken of influential elements in both Pakistan and Afghanistan that support the Taliban insurgency. Unless they are neutralised they will continue to stoke the conflict, thereby impeding the restoration of durable peace and stability. Only when the process of Talibanisation is contained, will it be possible to begin the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the rehabilitation of the internally displaced and external refugees. This is the key to winning the hearts and minds of a people who have suffered so much and for so long. The writer is the editor-in-chief of Criterion Quarterly Email: