More Taliban attacks in northern Afghanistan. The south gets the attention and the resources, the north and west deteriorate, and the east — the area most centrally important to the stated al-Qaeda-centric objectives of the war — is in a state of drift, as best I can tell.

For all the justified and justifiable criticism of Hamid Karzai, take a look at the critiques he makes in his Washington Post profile last week and find one that isn’t valid. The U.S. should pay more attention to the eastern border regions and get out of the villages. OK…

That is why the U.S. solution is a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy to improve security and governance. In his flare-ups, Karzai “is sending us a message,” said a senior U.S. military official. “And that message is, ‘I don’t believe in counterinsurgency.’ “

This should be a problem for counterinsurgency, not a problem for Karzai. If Gen. McChrystal was more deferential to Karzai, and Karzai got used to that kind of respect, maybe it’s time to return to it. Diplomacy can’t hurt.