Through this January and February, as the CIA and military surveillance gathered reports about a cash stockpile in northern Afghanistan and other indicators of a possible Russian operation, U.S. military and intelligence officials became increasingly concerned, several told me. By March, they were pressing for a top-level review by senior Trump administration officials of this still-unconfirmed threat to U.S. soldiers.

Through this agonizing period, Trump kept up a buzz of happy talk about improving relations with Putin, including the possibility of inviting him back into the Group of Seven. Were Trump’s commanders too afraid to warn him off this folly?

Trump isn’t the only one who knows too little about Afghanistan. Our forces there are so hunkered down, I’m told the military hasn’t allowed any significant embeds by journalists. Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the admirable commanding general, avoids briefing the press or Congress, perhaps for fear of unintentionally offending the White House.