Dr David Kilcullen, a former Australian army officer and adviser to former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, says the Taliban remain deeply unpopular, but the Afghan government is very corrupt.
"I often ask Afghans 'if someone stole your goat or bicycle, who would you go to?' - they never say the police. They laugh at the idea of going to the police," Dr Kilcullen said in an address to the National Press Club.
"They say the police would just beat you up for bothering them, but if you go to the Taliban, you will get it back - it might have blood on it, but you'll get it back."
The counter-insurgency expert says what is needed from the recent poll is a legitimate government that Afghans believe has been fairly elected.
"If you don't have a legitimate local Afghan government to support, then you don't have a counter-insurgency campaign," he said.
"The most critical thing in the campaign right now is how this election plays out."
Source: ABC Online