In calling for a stricter use of air strikes, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new commander of forces in Afghanistan, took a step back from the abyss. In coming to grips with the harsh reality that too many civilians were being killed, McChrystal decided to limit air strikes only to prevent American and coalition troops from being “overrun.” This is a long-delayed, yet welcome step.

Used to “take out” alleged terrorists in Afghanistan, air strikes have a kill ratio of one “bad guy” to tens of civilians.

Such indiscriminate killing of innocents – let alone the idea that a drone could be judge, jury and executioner of suspected terrorists — is recipe for disaster.

This change in policy was brought on by the realization that without winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people a long and costly war awaited the American people both in money and lives with certain defeat as the outcome.

The policy of air strikes was always counterproductive and should be eliminated, period. Especially in Pakistan! Just recently a U.S. military drone slaughtered 45 Pakistanis, according to news reports.

Since the United States never should have invaded and occupied Afghanistan in the first place, the question arises, what policies should be enacted that would allow us to leave in the shortest period of time? If the world’s strongest military power using the most sophisticated weapons available could not defeat the “enemy” but even made them bolder and stronger by increasing their ranks, then it stands to reason the military solution is not a solution.

The troops role should be a defensive one only, like protecting civilians, especially those Afghani and others recruited from around the world with the skills needed to set Afghanistan on the road to recovery. There needs to be an exit strategy and timetable for withdrawal.

The greatest percentage of the budgets for both Afghanistan and Pakistan must go to improving the lives of the people: helping to build infrastructure, schools and clinics.

If the military gets the largest chunk, then there will be no end in sight.