Is The Taliban Winning in Afghanistan?

In Afghanistan, the new U.S. commander is giving a blunt assessment of how the war there is going. In Monday's Wall Street Journal, General Stanley McChrystal says the Taliban now have the upper hand and the war has reached what he calls a "critical and decisive moment."

Last month was the deadliest of the war for U.S. troops -- with 45 deaths. In July of last year, there were 20; 14 in July of 2007.

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric discussed the report with Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent lara Logan.

Couric: Lara, is General McChrystal really that pessimistic?

Logan: Not according to one of his top aides. I spoke to him just a few hours ago. He said the general was speaking in a very specific context. That in certain parts of the country in the eyes of the people, the Taliban have gained the upper hand but this does not apply to the whole of Afghanistan.

Couric: We're hearing he may request an additional 45,000 U.S. troops on top of the 21,000 already deployed, is that true?

Logan: Well, General McChrystal likely to request more troops it. The exact number is not known at this point. He has not yet decided. And there were three sets of figures on the table. And so I mean he will make his recommendation in the coming weeks.

Couric: Just how much we're not sure. Meanwhile the elections are August 20. Do you think people will be able to vote freely throughout the country?

Logan: Well in large parts of the country, yes, they'll be able to vote. But in the parts of the country, where, for example, General McChrystal say the Taliban have gained the upper hand, they will have a very difficult time. The Taliban wants the elections to fail. They want the U.S. to fail and they will be doing everything they can to stop people going to the polls.

Couric: Meanwhile the Obama administration announced today it is preparing some 50 benchmarks to measure success because Congress is getting antsy about this war. Do you think that's a reliable way to measure progress?

Logan: Benchmarks can be a double-edged sword and it's very difficult with counterinsurgency because it is a long-term strategy. It takes years to see results. And it only takes 15 seconds to blow up a building or to blow up a road. So it's very difficult. It doesn't mean anything to the Afghan people. They feel it in their daily lives whether there's a difference or not. This more about the American people.

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  • Lara Logan

    Lara Logan's bold, award-winning reporting from war zones has earned her a prominent spot among the world's best foreign correspondents. Logan began contributing to 60 Minutes in 2005.