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Today U.S. intelligence says that Al Qaeda has rebuilt itself to roughly the same level of capabilities it had before its attack on September 11, 2001—a shocking comment on the ineffectiveness of U.S. efforts in the war on terror. How is this possible? One critical fact is that Al Qaeda has been able to operate openly and with impunity over a vast swath of land that forms the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Barnett Rubin offers a fascinating explanation of how a demarcation line drawn by Sir Henry Mortimer Durand in 1893 has put us in this difficult position. It’s a perfect exercise demonstrating how history does matter, as does knowledge of local cultures. A must read.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Chances that a Soviet woman’s first pregnancy will end in abortion:
Peaceful fungus-farming ants are sometimes protected against nomadic raider ants by sedentary invader ants.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."