General McChrystal has ordered great changes to the way foreign troops conduct themselves, especially to make them more respectful of local people and mores. This shift, he concedes, will probably lead to an increased number of Western casualties. He has also requested an extra 60,000 troops, to be added to his current 100,000-strong forces. But with public opinion in Western countries turning against the war, governments there, most importantly America’s, are reluctant to accept either outcome. As 2010 loomed, it was unclear whether Barack Obama would agree to send more American troops.
With an edge of desperation, the Europeans would rather discuss plans to “reintegrate”—or make peace with—the Taliban. Sooner or later, most Afghans and foreigners agree, this is inevitable. Yet there will be little progress on the task in 2010, and little agreement on how it should be attempted: the Americans want to win over low-level militants, the UN and some European governments advocate top-level peace talks. Nor is there much sign of reciprocal interest from the militants themselves. (photo: Reuters)