We’re over the river and through the woods, but Grandma’s house still isn’t in sight.

In the blasted lands on the other side of the globe, the Taliban has all but collapsed and the Northern Alliance is now getting ready to form a new government for Afghanistan. And while most people are celebrating – “Go America!” – the smarter folks are cringing.

The trial of installing a new, functioning government for Afghanistan is going to be one of Herculean proportions. The Northern Alliance is a loose confederation of different clans, some of which scarred the already nasty landscape with their bitter rivalries long before the Taliban came to power. Their cooperation now is wonderful; however, when the common foe’s grave is marked with spent bullet casings, how the rebel leaders will then get along remains to be seen.

The Northern Alliance isn’t your typical Boy Scout troup either. Their treatment of women hasn’t been much better than that of the Taliban. Also, they’ve been devouring the care packages dropped by American planes. Alliance fighters know whether the falling speck in the sky is a bomb or a crate of food and blankets and usually beat the refugees to them. Often times, the Afghan people end up buying the goods, sent with much love and tenderness, from the local markets and bazaars.

Allegiance in the region is also fluid, with the Northern Alliance welcoming and encouraging Taliban defectors. World leaders say that the new government should not include any people who were involved with the Taliban, but talk is easy; it’s the walk that’s hard.

And it isn’t very clear what’s happening to the Alliances’ POWs either. They’ve been sketchy on the details of their captives and some believe they’ve been killed. The Taliban will only surrender to the UN, and I don’t blame them. They may be a rotten bunch of bastards that deserve a Nuremberg of their very own, but it doesn’t mean they’re stupid.

The United States’ hesitance to support the Northern Alliance is understandable; right now they’re borderline on being the lesser of two evils. And hopefully our government will be smart enough not to directly empower any Northern Alliance leaders or ex-Taliban supporters. The new Afghan government should be representative of all the people, not just those fighting on the front lines.

The biggest problem lies in trying to unite and maintain a country filled with such a vast array of people without catering specifically to one group. Once the fighting is over, the United States and its allies need to take away the toy we’ve given to the rebels and make sure they can play nice with each other before we leave them alone to work things out.

As for now, things are looking up. A London news organization reported that Osama bin Ladan is hiding out in a 30-square-mile area. The Taliban’s territory is rapidly shrinking. Theaters are reopening in Kabul, more women are showing themselves in public and the television station which the Taliban pulled the plug on several years ago has started broadcasting once again – with women news anchors.

Like all cosmetics though, these changes won’t last for long. If something isn’t done quickly to ensure a stable, representative government in Afghanistan, it will all wash away like cheap lipstick.

And the world will learn that the road to hell is paved with care packages and carpet bombs.

Daily Nexus columnist Steven Ruszczycky is optimistic only when he has to be. His column appears every Tuesday, pessimism permitting.