The following editorial appeared in the Kansas City Star on Monday, June 14:
These are troubling times in Afghanistan, though there are signs of hope.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai's "peace jirga" ended in a rocket attack (barely missing the tent in which he was speaking) and was followed by the resignation of two prominent and well-respected ministers. There were reports last week that Britain, the staunchest ally of U.S. efforts, is tiring of the long war.
The number of American and NATO dead is climbing quickly, and there are warnings that war deaths will continue to grow at least through this summer. Roadside bombs and suicide attacks are becoming increasingly common and sophisticated.
Taliban resistance has stiffened and isn't expected to slacken in the coming months, especially as Karzai wavers. More often, Karzai appears to doubt the West and looks toward Pakistan as the key to his future, even as security officials warn that much Taliban support actually originates in Pakistan.
And yet NATO commanders believe they are seeing "measured progress" in taking remote areas from the Taliban.
Of course, none of the bad news is really news. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both were clear in warning that nothing in Afghanistan is ever easy.
Securing Taliban-controlled areas and then staying focused on transitioning security from NATO to Afghan forces is a difficult but necessary task. As the pace of combat accelerates with the end of winter, it is important to remember that surest path home for our troops is success.