NOT every picture tells a story but one that appeared in several newspapers yesterday almost certainly did. Taken in Washington before the start of the Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States summit, it showed a downcast Hillary Clinton listening to President Karsai of Afghanistan as he spoke intently to her. It was easy to guess the topic: the loss of the lives of more than 100 Afghan civilians in an American airstrike in Western Afghanistan. One wonders how any American commander could have authorised such a risky strike when he must have known about the delicate negotiations taking place in Washington. President Obama spoke confidently at the end of the talks: “We meet together as three sovereign nations, joined by a common goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaeda and its extremist partners...No matter what happens we will not be deterred.” For perhaps the first time since he became President it was possible to wonder whether Mr Obama really believed what he was saying -- or was rather just hoping it would prove to be true. Pakistan is in danger of falling to pieces and America's ally in Afghanistan for the next five years is likely to be the same President they have criticised consistently for the past five years. Wars cannot be fought without killing innocent civilians yet every death in Afghanistan will make the defeat of Al-Qaeda less likely.