The US has essentially given up hope of negotiating a peace settlement with the Taliban, once a key piece of its strategy for ending the Afghan war, generals and civilian officials tell the New York Times. Their new, more modest goal is to lay the groundwork for the Afghans to eventually strike a deal of their own. "I don't see it happening in the next couple years," said one senior officer. "It's a very resilient enemy."
But Afghanistan isn't Washington's only worry: A resurgent al-Qaeda franchise in Northern Africa has the Obama administration so spooked that it's considering unilateral strikes against it, the Washington Post reports. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb now controls a sizable chunk of territory in Mali, and is flush with weapons from the Libyan revolution. "Right now we're not in a position to do much about it," one official says, at least not with troops; drone attacks, however, are on the table. In the meantime, the US has withdrawn all its personnel from Benghazi, which will hamper any further investigation of the attack there.