United Nations Special Envoy Kai Eide has warned that the security situation in Afghanistan “is worse than it was three months ago,” and that the deteriorating atmosphere was distracting countries from fulfilling the commitments they made at June’s conference in Paris. Meanwhile, during a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Bush downplayed the rising violence and touted the “progress” being made in the war-torn country.

President Bush’s upbeat attitude about the Afghanistan situation runs contrary to a National Intelligence Estimate which, though expected to remain classified at least until after the November election, reportedly paints a “grim” picture of the overall situation. Likewise, in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee Admiral Michael Mullen warned that the present strategy in Afghanistan was not succeeding and claimed to be looking at a “new, more comprehensive” strategy.

Last week, the United Nations issued a report showing a dramatic increase in the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan this year. The civilian deaths in recent days have strained ties between NATO forces and the Afghan government. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued his “sincere condolences” for the deaths, while General McKiernan announced a “revised tactical order” designed to reduce the number of civilians killed.

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