The years keep passing with the United States in Afghanistan—nearly 17 in all now—and the death toll keeps climbing. This week it was twin suicide bombings in Kabul that killed 25 people, including nine journalists, plus an attack on a military convoy in the country’s south that wounded several Romanian service members and killed an unknown number of children nearby. American soldiers, too, despite having drawn down their presence, continue to die there—two of them have been killed in the country this year, most recently a 22-year-old Army specialist who died east of Kabul this week. All of this comes as the government makes overtures to seek peace with the Taliban. The natural question after a week of violence like this is: Is the pursuit of peace growing hopeless?
The battle has been complicated by the fact that it’s not simply one between the government and the Taliban. A branch of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack. Soon after the group had appeared in Afghanistan, U.S. defense officials had dismissed its numbers, repeatedly claiming that U.S. strikes had decimated the group. A year later, ISIS is not only alive in Afghanistan, it has repeatedly shown its ability to strike at the heart of the Afghan state.