A stalemate between US Marines and Taliban fighters in a small, abandoned town in southern Afghanistan could be seen as a microcosm of the war there, Michael M. Phillips writes in the Wall Street Journal. In Now Zad, a 300-strong company of Marines has traded fire with a Taliban force it cannot overcome since last year. But neither can the Americans cede ground. “It’s a prize too valuable to lose, not valuable enough to win," writes Phillips.
The standoff illustrates how limited troop numbers hamper the ability to oust insurgents from villages and why the US is shifting strategy to remedy that. But even the upcoming surge of 21,000 troops probably won't be able to turn the tide in fights such as Now Zad. "They’re right there,” a Marine told a newly arrived soldier. “This is what it turns into—us watching them, them watching us.”