In September 2002, President Bush established a Doctrine, which among other things, stated that America will not only wage war on countries that directly and immediately threaten her, but also wage war on countries or organizations in countries that might at some point threaten her.
In December 2009, President Obama endorsed this doctrine when he announced that he would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Despite the fact that Afghanistan or the Taliban pose a direct or immediate threat to America. Some argue that Al Qaeda is a threat, but the consensus is that they are based in Pakistan, not Afghanistan.
So much for a different strategy with the new administration.
But this isn't really the problem. The problem is the absurdity of a "superpower" declaring war on a few hundred disaffected criminals (it's the equivalent of Apollo or Zeus or Poseidon declaring war on the four guys that maliciously starched their chitons). America didn't stop there - they called "them" evil. Intentionally or not, both Presidents Bush and Obama created a much larger "them," one spanning both a whole race (Arabs) and a whole religion (Islam). It gets worse - unlike the superpower who lords her wealth and excess over the planet, these millions of "thems" happen to be among the more impoverished on the planet - so it's kicking sand in the faces of people who are already buried up to their necks.
If you're a sports fan and someone from a rival team thoroughly insults "your guys," are you angry? Do you want to get even, pray that your team beats the crap out of theirs? Yes, but you're not going to take a gun and actually attack their players, you've got too much to lose.
Imagine if you were one of "these people" (poor, without education, without hope) and you were dissed as roundly and viscerally as America just did - the insult wasn't just to your sports team, it was to your religion, your very way of life, your family, and your heritage. How would you react? How would you react with literally nothing to lose?
Now imagine you're a well-funded ~200-person organization looking for recruits to help reassert "our pride and honor against those arrogant infidels that have called our race and religion a cancer, and maliciously killed our women and children." Don't you think that if you offer them a chance for "respect" (not unlike what gang bangers offer young children in many American cities), and give them money to feed and educate their families, that they'd happily join up even if it was (literally) a suicide mission?
For the last eight years, America has wasted more than $210 billion vainly attempting to "eradicate evil" - an evil (Taliban) she helped create and arm when the Soviets invaded not so long ago. Now they will double down with new troops, and activate a strategy of, are you ready for this - training and arming local militias!!!
Jeez! Can we be any dumber than this??
Has anyone ever successfully created peace, democracy and good will by training and arming small communities of testosterone-filled destitute, tribal warriors??
What if instead of giving them a reason and capacity to kill, we gave them a reason and capacity to live? What if the United States worked with other developed nations to create a multi (say 10)-year trade agreement with Afghanistan where their crops (all but opium) were bought by "western" countries at premium prices - one that made it worthwhile for Afghans to put down their guns and ammo, and pick up their hoes and fertilizer? What if we provided them with tools and resources to create more arable land (irrigation, soil improvement, seeds, etc.)? What if we helped each community that was interested build a local cooperative from whom we would buy products?
The next two years are expected to cost Americans ~$100+ billion/year. Let's instead spend that money (along with $$ from other wealthy countries) to overpay for agricultural products. Let's help Afghanis develop the means (over time) to sell their products competitively. Let's give the people of Afghanistan a reason to live and a means to care for their families, and a sense of self-worth that makes it impossible for any terrorist organization to lure new recruits.
Surely this is a truer path towards peace and a self-determined society?