One main challenge is restoring the imbalance between military power and soft power, all that diplomatic/economic influence.
From the Financial Times, about recent departures from the US foreign policy team:
"The Bush administration is facing growing difficulties in filling a rising number of high-level vacancies following a recent spate of senior departures.
In the last 10 days alone Mr Bush has lost four senior officials and more resignations are expected to follow. “I wouldn’t describe this as disintegration,” said one senior official. “But there are worrying large gaps opening up and it is very hard to recruit high-quality people from outside.”
Recent departures include J.D. Crouch, the deputy head of the national security council, who wants to spend more time with his family, and Randall Tobias, the head of USAID, who resigned after it was revealed that he used a call girl agency for “legal” erotic services. Mr Bush has also lost Dina Habib Powell, the administration’s most senior Arab-American, who is leaving the State Department to join the private sector, and Timothy Adams, the number three at the Treasury department.
Officials say that the flurry of departures is not unusual during the latter part of a second term and deny there are common themes driving their exits. But they come at a time when Mr Bush is having difficulty filling the new position of “war czar” to oversee the administration’s prosecution of the war in Iraq."
As a follow up and segue, a quote from John Paul Vann:
""This is a political war and it calls for discrimination in killing. The best weapon for killing would be a knife, but I'm afraid we can't do it that way. The worst is an airplane. The next worst is artillery. Barring a knife, the best is a rifle -- you know who you're killing."
Now see this:
Air raid 'kills Afghan civilians'
US-led forces have killed at least 21 civilians in an air strike in southern Afghanistan, local officials say.
And the response from Sean McCormack, Spokesman, US State Department:
: How do these events affect your efforts to win the hearts and minds of the people in Afghanistan?
: I -- well, to the extent that people understand that we're working there on -- working on their behalf, I think in the long run they understand that these actions -- any loss of innocent life isn't intentional on our part and that we certainly hope that they understand that.
I can't tell you on the ground exactly how people will react. You know, if I were in their position, I -- certainly I can see how they would be quite upset at the loss of a loved one. You know, you can't replace that. But the only thing we can do is try to help them understand that we are actually working on their behalf to help them and their families and their children build a better country for themselves.
Note this: "we certainly hope that they understand that."
This ain't good. At all...
I'd point out also that National Guard personnel and equipment deployed over in Iraq is sorely missed back home where tornadoes and other natural disasters would normally be mitigated by using these assets.
It could be a political issue, as well.