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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:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Percentage increase in the annual number of polio cases in Pakistan since 2005:
A bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles was found in northwestern China; and a spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that “this is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”
A federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”