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Should this have been the American strategy in Afghanistan? Yes, I think so

In a new book on the American war in Afghanistan, Aaron MacLean presents this alternative approach as the road not taken.

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In a new book on the American war in Afghanistan, Aaron MacLean presents this alternative approach as the road not taken:

The reestablishment of a limited state, perhaps rooted in a Barakzai monarchy, with more accommodation of illiberal actors, acceptance of the control of vast areas of the country by tribal and ethnic networks whose practices are objectionable to the Western conscience, combined with solicitude toward the conservative beliefs of rural Pashtuns and a recognition that Pakistan, facing the threat of India to its east, has no natural interest in a prosperous state capable of conducting its own independent foreign policy to its west: perhaps that could have succeeded.

I am not quite sure of what MacLean, a journalist who was an Marine infantry platoon leader in the Afghan war, means by “recognition” of Pakistan’s lack of interest in a stable Afghanistan. I’ll try to ask him.

Photo credit: SGT. MATTHEW FREIRE/U.S. Department of Defense

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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