Key Afghan War Measures Remain Grim, But U.S. Sizing Up Chances for Peace by Dion Nissenbaum – Wall Street Journal
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - By most objective measures, President Donald Trump’s year-old strategy for ending the war in Afghanistan has produced few positive results.
Afghanistan’s beleaguered soldiers have failed to recapture significant new ground from the Taliban. Civilian deaths have hit historic highs. The Afghan military is struggling to build a reliable air force and expand the number of elite fighters. Efforts to cripple lucrative insurgent drug smuggling operations have fallen short of expectations. And U.S. intelligence officials say the president’s strategy has halted Taliban gains but not reversed their momentum, according to people familiar with the latest assessments.
American officials say, though, the hard numbers don’t tell the full story: After 17 years of fighting, a new window of opportunity has opened for historic peace talks that could bring the war to an end.
Top U.S. and Afghan officials don’t focus solely on the grim statistics, but also on the more implicit signs of optimism—especially what they consider a surprising three-day cease fire earlier this month, when Taliban fighters took selfie photos with Afghan soldiers across the country…