Why’s the U.S. reinforcing Kabul? Possibly because the Taliban has expanded and entrenched its hold on Afghanistan in most of the country. Yochi Dreazen reports for the Wall Street Journal:

The Paris-based International Council on Security and Development, a think tank that maintains full-time offices in Afghanistan, said the Taliban have spread across much of the country and are beginning to encircle the capital, Kabul.

The group said Taliban fighters have advanced out of southern Afghanistan, a region where they often hold de facto governing power, and carry out regular attacks in western and northwestern Afghanistan as well as in and around Kabul. Taliban forces can be found in 72% of Afghanistan, up from 54% a year earlier.

"While the international community’s prospects in Afghanistan have never been bleaker, the Taliban has been experiencing a renaissance that has gained momentum since 2005," the report said. "The West is in genuine danger of losing Afghanistan."

Never been bleaker. Little wonder, then, that the top United Nations official in Afghanistan blasted western countries for inattentiveness to what the Afghan people think and want, an arrogance that practically begs the Taliban to exploit the resulting bitterness. The New York Times:

“Are we sufficiently sensitive to Afghan concerns?” [Special Representative Kai Eide] asked. “Are we sure that we behave in a way that brings Afghan communities closer to the government? Do we listen sufficiently to the concerns we hear from the president and so many Afghans? I’m not convinced that we are.”

He added, “We see how we can go wrong now.”

What we don’t see is how we can go right.

Crossposted to The Streak.