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Does US commander's frank assessment of Afghanistan help – or hurt – war effort?

An attack near Kabul Monday seemed to reinforce Gen. Stanley McChrystal's claim that the Taliban is winning. Some say such comments hurt morale; others say his honesty inspires confidence.

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The Taliban are winning.

That's the gist of comments made Monday by the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal. As if to underscore the point, insurgents launched another audacious attack Monday, seizing a government building in a provincial capital near Kabul and killing five.

While many Afghanistan experts agree the war is trending against NATO, some question the wisdom of broadcasting it.

"I think that's the kind of assessment better made privately rather than publicly," says William Maley, director of the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at Australia National University.

"The danger of airing that kind of position is that it's heard by the Afghan public [and] that may disincline ordinary Afghans on the ground to align themselves with the coalition," he says.

Of course, incidents like Monday's attack in Logar Province also speak volumes to Afghans about the lack of overall security. Half a dozen Taliban entered the capital, Pul-i-Alam, and fired rocket-propelled grenades at the home of the governor and office of the police chief. Five police and two attackers are reported dead.


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