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.