The Moment

6|9|10: Afghanistan

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In the Hellish Math of War, more troops battling more enemies leads with grim inevitability to more flag-draped caskets. As President Obama's surge takes hold against the Afghan insurgency, the number of U.S. and allied casualties is rising sharply. Twenty-nine NATO troops were killed in the first nine days of June, according to an Associated Press tally. Of those, 17 were Americans, including four killed on June 9, when a helicopter was shot down over southern Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold. The same day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Britain, which lost a warrior of its own that deadly Wednesday, and he counseled patience. He said General Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces, is "pretty confident that by the end of the year"--Year Nine of the war--the world will see "sufficient progress that validates the strategy." Meanwhile, a Pentagon report finds an almost complete lack of support among Afghans for the Karzai government, on which the U.S. has pinned its hopes. In war, it's dark before the dawn. It's also dark before disaster. All we know is that darkness has fallen over Afghanistan.