US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

The New York Review of Books


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"Undefeated, ISIS Is Back in Iraq"

Aziz Ahmad berichtet dagegen in seiner Reportage aus Erbil, dass der offiziell besiegte "Islamische Staat" unter sunnitischen Irakern erneut an Einfluss gewinne. "The reasons for the return of ISIS are obvious. For years, the conventional approach to stopping the group has depended on airstrikes and local proxy forces; stripping away territory and revenues from ISIS has been the marker of success. But this is a gross misunderstanding of the group. (...) It has adapted to the antipathy found among the millions forced to flee their homes or chafing under the yoke of Shia militia rule, certain of the Islamic State’s inevitable return. Mosul, for instance, is exactly where ISIS wants it to be, filled with popular resentment that will gradually push locals back into the group’s orbit without its active intervention. ISIS has instead put its resources into a campaign at the village level, in rural areas where security is nonexistent at night — and that has paid off. Through 2018, dozens of village chiefs have been killed across northern Iraq in assassinations, bombings, and kidnappings. At least thirteen have been killed since December, including four in Mosul."

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"Imperial Exceptionalism"

Jackson Lears stellt zwei Bücher vor, die sich mit der imperialistischen Geschichte der USA beschäftigen, die in den USA oft mit anderen Begriffen umschrieben werde. "Since the era of Theodore Roosevelt, politicians, journalists, and even some historians have deployed euphemisms — 'expansionism,' 'the large policy,' 'internationalism,' 'global leadership' — to disguise America’s imperial ambitions. According to the exceptionalist creed embraced by both political parties and most of the press, imperialism was a European venture that involved seizing territories, extracting their resources, and dominating their (invariably dark-skinned) populations. Americans, we have been told, do things differently: they bestow self-determination on backward peoples who yearn for it. The refusal to acknowledge that Americans have pursued their own version of empire — with the same self-deceiving hubris as Europeans — makes it hard to see that the US empire might (like the others) have a limited lifespan. All empires eventually end, but maybe an exceptional force for global good could last forever — or so its champions seem to believe. The refusal to contemplate the scaling back of empire shuts down what ought to be our most urgent foreign policy debate before it has even begun. That is why these two new books are so necessary, and so welcome".

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"The New Military-Industrial Complex of Big Data Psy-Ops"

Der Skandal um die Auswertung von Facebook-Daten durch das Unternehmen Cambridge Analytica habe den Blick auf einen bislang kaum beachteten "neuen Militärisch-industriellen Komplex" gelenkt, schreibt Tamsin Shaw. "Carole Cadwalladr’s recent exposé of the inner workings of Cambridge Analytica shows that the company, along with its partner, SCL Group, should rightly be as a cautionary tale about the part private companies play in developing and deploying government-funded behavioral technologies. (...) But the revelations should also prompt us to ask deeper questions about the kind of behavioral science research that enables both governments and private companies to assume these powers. (...) I’ve written previously about the way in which a great deal of contemporary behavioral science aims to exploit our irrationalities rather than overcome them. A science that is oriented toward the development of behavioral technologies is bound to view us narrowly as manipulable subjects rather than rational agents. If these technologies are becoming the core of America’s military and intelligence cyber-operations, it looks as though we will have to work harder to keep these trends from affecting the everyday life of our democratic society."

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"The Islamic Road to the Modern World"

Malise Ruthven stellt zwei Bücher vor, die einen Blick zurück ins 19. Jahrhundert werfen und sich mit der damaligen Phase einer "islamischen Aufklärung" beschäftigen. Christopher de Bellaigue wende sich in seinem Buch "The Islamic Enlightenment" gegen die verbreitete Vorstellung, dass die Modernisierung islamischer Länder ausschließlich "von oben" durchgesetzt werden musste. "According to widespread assumptions, efforts to transform Islamic nations into modern societies were mainly imposed 'from above' by Western-leaning autocrats (...) the underlying premise being that the Enlightenment was an exclusively Judeo-Christian (or post-Christian) movement that had no parallel in Islamic societies. This 'historical fallacy,' in de Bellaigue’s view, has led 'triumphalist Western historians, politicians and commentators, as well as some renegade Muslims who have turned on the religion of their births,' to insist that 'Islam [still] needs its Enlightenment.' By contrast, de Bellaigue argues convincingly that efforts to bring modern political ideas to the Muslim world had a 'natural constituency' among the educated minority and that, despite opposition, they slowly gained general acceptance".

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"Can China Replace the West?"

Jessica T. Mathews stellt das Buch "Easternization: Asia’s Rise and America’s Decline from Obama to Trump and Beyond" von Gideon Rachman vor, in dem der Kolumnist der Financial-Times die Hintergründe des politischen und wirtschaftlichen Wandels in Asien analysiert. Rachmans These, dass der Aufstieg Asiens und insbesondere Chinas das Ende der vom Westen dominierten Weltordnung einleiten wird, wird von Mathews nicht geteilt. "Without doubt, Asia’s economic ascent has been extraordinary, but Westernization — the spread of the West’s influence and values — has rested on much more than its wealth and the military power derived from it. Those other elements — including open governments, readiness to build institutions, and contributions to others’ security and growth — are weak or absent in Asia today. Easternization is neither here nor coming soon. Asia is the world’s largest continent and home to 4.4 billion people. But its story is disproportionately about China’s economic growth. (...) Rachman writes that China’s long-term goal is 'overturning America’s global role.' If he means that Beijing sees itself as a strategic competitor and wants to replace the US as world leader, he has gone too far. China would like to see a weaker US where US policies threaten its interests, especially in its neighborhood, but it has shown no desire to possess America’s global preeminence."

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"Russia, NATO, Trump: The Shadow World"

Welchen Einfluss hat die geheimdienstliche Tätigkeit Russlands in seiner Vergangenheit auf die Politik und den Regierungsstil des ehemaligen KBG-Agenten Putin. Dieser Frage geht Robert Cottrell in seiner Rezension aktueller Bücher zum Konflikt zwischen der NATO und Russland nach. "Vladimir Putin is invariably tagged in the Western media as a former KGB officer, the implication being that he can best be understood as a product of that culture. But he was not a typical product in one respect at least. (...) That aside, the 'KGB' tag seems to fit well, as long as you remember that Putin mainly worked in counterintelligence, not foreign intelligence. He was a secret policeman. Look at Putin, and 'policeman' is indeed a word that comes easily to mind. But how much do we really know about the KGB and its 'culture,' if that is not too strong a term? If we accept the proposition that the KGB was among the most mendacious institutions in human history, then the historian confronts a Cretan paradox: all the best sources are liars."

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"The Kurds Are Nearly There"

Christian Caryl stellt vier Bücher vor, die sich mit der Geschichte der Kurden und der Möglichkeit eines unabhängigen kurdischen Staates im Nahen Osten beschäftigt haben. "Creating a new Kurdish state is likely to be a highly complex affair in the best of cases. Yet it is also true that some new countries have started life under even less auspicious circumstances. As Zaman points out, Kurds have been waiting for a state of their own for a century — and they’re unlikely to go on waiting until conditions are optimal. 'The 'we are not ready' camp cites the economic crisis, corruption, the lack of unity, and opposition from Iran and Turkey as the main obstacles to Iraqi Kurdish statehood,' she writes. 'Yet, many of these issues will not be resolved by remaining part of Iraq.' The Kurds are already on the march. Their friends in the rest of the world - including the next US president - will soon have to decide whether they want to keep up."

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"Tony Blair’s Eternal Shame: The Report"

Der britische Journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft fällt in seiner Analyse des Regierungsberichts über die britische Beteiligung am Irak-Krieg ein vernichtendes Urteil über den damaligen Premierminister Tony Blair. "Long after those distant years of triumph, the truth about Blair finally becomes clear. He believed himself to be a great leader and redeemer; some of the weirder passages in his memoir – 'I felt a growing inner sense of belief, almost of destiny … I was alone' - suggest an almost clinically delusional personality; and of course he did something shameful or even wicked in Iraq. And yet in the end Tony Blair isn’t a messiah or a madman or a monster. He’s a complete and utter mediocrity. He might have made an adequate prime minister in ordinary days, but in our strange and testing times he was hopelessly out of his depth. Now we are left with the consequences."

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"Ancient Syrian Sites: A Different Story of Destruction"

Hugh Eakin stellt zwei Bücher und einen Untersuchungsbericht vor, die sich mit den Konsequenzen der Zerstörung von Kulturstätten und Artefakten im syrischen Palmyra und mit dem regen Schmuggel von syrischen Antiquitäten beschäftigt haben. Die internationale Gemeinschaft widme der Zerstörungswut des "Islamischen Staates" viel Aufmerksamkeit, was in Syrien selbst oft mit Befremden wahrgenommen werde. "For many Syrians, the international response has been baffling. While speaking constantly of ISIS, whose destructive acts they can do little about, Western leaders and cultural officials have mostly overlooked the grave damage that is occurring in many other parts of Syria — often in areas where preventive steps can be taken. And for all the extraordinary expressions of concern for the fate of the country’s museums, monuments, and artwork, hardly anything has been said about the relation of these sites to the communities surrounding them, which are often deeply attached to them. (...) Even as UNESCO has begun speaking of the destruction of cultural sites and shrines as a 'crime against humanity,' the human beings who live closest to them — particularly in opposition areas held by neither ISIS nor the Syrian government, where much of the conflict has played out — have largely been ignored."

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"'Terror' and Everybody’s Rights"

Jed S. Rakoff stellt den Band "A War Like No Other: The Constitution in a Time of Terror" des US-Verfassungsrechtlers Owen Fiss vor, der sich seit 2003 in zehn ausführlichen Essays mit den rechtlichen Aspekten des amerikanischen "Krieges gegen den Terror" auseinandergesetzt hat. "Now in his late seventies, he had focused much of his academic career (which had made him one of the most-cited legal scholars in the country) on such subjects as civil procedure, freedom of speech, and equal protection of the law. But his palpable disagreement with the way federal courts were, in the name of an uncertain and shifting war, largely avoiding judicial scrutiny of everything from manifest torture to far-reaching surveillance led him, beginning in 2003, to write the ten essays now collected by his former student Trevor Sutton in A War Like No Other."

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"The Drone Presidency"

David Cole stellt vier neue Bücher vor, die sich mit dem amerikanischen Drohnenkrieg beschäftigen, der in der Amtszeit von Präsident Obama eine neue Qualität erreicht hat. Hugh Gusterson, Autor von "Drone: Remote Control Warfare", warne davor, dass der Drohnenkrieg nicht nur durch die USA ausgeweitet werden könnte: "'If targeted killing outside the law has been so attractive to a president who was a constitutional law professor, who opposed the war in Iraq from the very beginning, who ended the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture program, and who announced his intention to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp on assuming office, it is unlikely that any successor to his office will easily renounce the seductions of the drone.' And it is not only President Trump or Clinton we need to worry about. Other countries are unlikely to be reticent about resort to unmanned aerial warfare to 'solve' problems beyond their borders. Already, Israel, the United Kingdom, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, and Pakistan have joined the US in deploying armed drones. China is selling them at a list price of only $1 million. In short order, most of the developed world will have them."

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"The Wars of Vladimir Putin"

Der Historiker Timothy Snyder stellt drei Bücher vor, die sich mit den Hintergründen der russischen Ukraine-Politik und mit der jüngeren Geschichte der Ukraine-Krise beschäftigen. "1989, the year that the Polish war reporter Paweł Pieniążek was born, was understood by some in the West as an end to history. After the peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe, what alternative was there to liberal democracy? The rule of law had won the day. European integration would help the weaker states reform and support the sovereignty of all. (...) But was the West coming to the East, or the East to the West? By 2014, a quarter-century after the revolutions of 1989, Russia proposed a coherent alternative: faked elections, institutionalized oligarchy, national populism, and European disintegration. When Ukrainians that year made a revolution in the name of Europe, Russian media proclaimed the 'decadence' of the EU, and Russian forces invaded Ukraine in the name of a 'Eurasian' alternative."

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"How the French Face Terror"

Die Pariser Terroranschläge vom 13. November 2015 hätten die französische Debatte über die radikalislamische Bedrohung grundlegend verändert, schreibt Mark Lilla in seiner Vorstellung von vier französischen Büchern zum Thema. "For decades they had waged a bitter argument, occasioned by the growing Muslim presence in the country, about what kind of society France should be: a classic republic based on a strict separation between religion and the public sphere, or a more multicultural society that recognized, if not celebrated, 'difference.' The mass killings by French-born Muslims of Jews and journalists were immediately framed in these terms, as the consequence either of abandoning the principle of laicity or of the social exclusion of Muslims. (...) The highly coordinated massacres this past November by a team of European terrorists inspired by ISIS have shifted the debate radically. It is simply no longer possible to ignore the fact that international jihadism is a phenomenon in its own right, not the spontaneous result of abandoning secularism or religious prejudice. (...) While there are sharp political arguments today over the security measures the French government has taken since the attacks, the nature of the threat is no longer in question."

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"The Problem with Poland"

Jan-Werner Müller hat sich für die New York Review of Books mit den Hintergründen des politischen Rechtsrucks in Polen beschäftigt. "Central Europe’s authoritarian turn has come as a surprise to many Western observers. Why, they ask, has it happened in countries that after 1989 were at the vanguard of the movement to transform Communist dictatorships into liberal European democracies? Why Poland, which is the only major European economy that came through the Great Recession of 2008 with continuous economic growth and which has been the largest beneficiary of subsidies from the EU? What outsiders have often missed is that the broad consensus in Poland and Hungary about joining the EU obscured deep economic and cultural divisions—and a corresponding winner-take-all mentality among the two countries’ political elites. Few noticed the seeming paradox that the more state socialism receded in time, the more intense the anti-Communist crusades of leaders like Orbán and Kaczyński became."

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"ISIS in Gaza"

Die langjährige Nahostkorrespondentin Sarah Helm berichtet in ihrer Reportage, dass sich in Gaza salafistische Dschihadisten, die dem "Islamischen Staat" nahestehen, ausbreiteten. "At the end of 2015 the future for Gaza is dark, though how much darker it may yet become will depend on whether ISIS continues to win support there. Nobody knows if the present crackdown by Hamas will succeed. (...) Moreover, if Hamas fails to crush the Gaza jihadists, ISIS would have a foothold in the Holy Land, posing new and unpredictable dangers, not only for Gazans themselves, but for Israel, the region, and for the West’s wider war on the Islamic State. In such a sequence, Israel will be expected to find the “solution” and will almost certainly bombard Gaza yet again and with perhaps greater ferocity. (...) If the stifling Israeli controls were lifted now the atmosphere could change fast. If there was tangible hope of a serious new attempt at peace, Gazans might find ways to win over discouraged extremists. At a conference in New York sponsored by the Israeli journal Haaretz, Robert Malley, the White House official assigned to organize opposition to ISIS, said that a resolution to the Israel–Palestine conflict 'would be a major contribution to stemming the rise of extremism' in Gaza and elsewhere."

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"The Refugees & the New War"

Der kanadische Politikwissenschaftler und frühere Politiker Michael Ignatieff hofft, dass der Westen der Provokation des "Islamischen Staates" nicht erliegen wird. Dazu gehöre auch, dass Flüchtlinge künftig nicht als latente Sicherheitsrisiken behandelt werden dürften. Die USA müssten Ignatieff zufolge aktiver werden und die Folgen einer möglichen europäischen Abschottung durch die eigene Aufnahme von Flüchtlingen auffangen. "A US strategy should start from the understanding that the refugees present a national security challenge as much as a humanitarian crisis and that helping Europe deal with them is critical to the battle against jihadi nihilism. If Europe closes its borders, if the frontline states can no longer cope, the US and the West will face millions of stateless people who will never forget that they were denied the right to have rights. In a battle against extremism, giving hope to desperate people is not charity: it is simple prudence. These national interests demand that a ceasefire in Syria become as important for the administration as the Iran deal."

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"The Rule of Boko Haram"

Joshua Hammer hat sich in den Norden Nigerias begeben und beschreibt in seinem Beitrag das gesellschaftliche Umfeld, das den Aufstieg der radikalislamischen Terrorgruppe Boko Haram begünstigt hat. "It is too early to tell whether the recent military successes will be followed by the final defeat of the jihadists. And even if the new regime does manage to eliminate most of them, the endemic poverty, corruption, and religious extremism that gave rise to the movement will prove a far more difficult challenge."

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"Norway: The Two Faces of Extremism"

Hugh Eakin setzt sich bei seiner Empfehlung von drei neuen Büchern mit dem Massaker an 77 Menschen durch den Rechtsextremisten Anders Behring Breivik am 22. Juli 2011 auseinander. "(...) with Breivik has come the ominous knowledge that it takes only one jihadist — or counter-jihadist — to change everything, and that right-wing anti-immigration politics and jihadism are mutually reinforcing. 'The relationship between the extremists is a symbiosis,' said Sultan, the Muslim politician and analyst of extremism."

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"Wake Up, Europe"

Der US-Unternehmer George Soros ist davon überzeugt, dass Europa heute einer "existenziellen" Herausforderung durch Russland gegenüberstehe. Leider werde dies von vielen Politikern noch nicht erkannt. Um Russland entgegentreten zu können, müsse die EU u.a. ihre aktuelle Finanzpolitik revidieren. "It ought to be evident that it is inappropriate for a country, or association of countries, at war to pursue a policy of fiscal austerity as the European Union continues to do. All available resources ought to be put to work in the war effort even if that involves running up budget deficits. The fragility of the new Ukraine makes the ambivalence of the West all the more perilous. Not only the survival of the new Ukraine but the future of NATO and the European Union itself is at risk. (...) It is high time for the members of the European Union to wake up and behave as countries indirectly at war. They are better off helping Ukraine to defend itself than having to fight for themsel ves. One way or another, the internal contradiction between being at war and remaining committed to fiscal austerity has to be eliminated. Where there is a will, there is a way."

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"ISIS: The New Taliban"

Der Vormarsch der ISIS im Irak erinnert Ahmed Rashid an die Taliban, die nach einer ähnlichen Offensive in den frühen 1990er Jahren die Herrschaft in Afghanistan übernommen hätten. "There are several instructive parallels between the two groups. The hardcore forces of ISIS probably number fewer than 10,000 trained fighters; the Taliban never numbered more than 25,000 men — even at the height of the US surge when there were over 150,000 Western troops in Afghanistan and twice that many Afghan soldiers. Like the Taliban, ISIS successes are built around military competence that includes excellent command and control, sound intelligence, well prepared logistics support, training, high mobility, and rapid speed of maneuver. Just as ISIS, after years of preparation and recruiting in Iraq and Syria, has overrun Mosul and other important Iraqi cities in a matter of weeks, Taliban conquered all of southern and eastern Afghanistan in a blitzkrieg offensive in a few months in 1994."

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"Pakistan: Worse Than We Knew"

Ahmed Rashid empfiehlt das neue Buch "The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001–2014" der britischen "New York Times"-Korrespondentin Carlotta Gall, die seit mehr als zehn Jahren aus Pakistan und Afghanistan berichtet. Gall zufolge trage Pakistan für die Gewalt im Nachbarland größere Verantwortung als offiziell eingestanden werde. "Her book has aroused considerable controversy, not least in Pakistan. Its thesis is quite simple: 'The [Afghan] war has been a tragedy costing untold thousands of lives and lasting far too long. The Afghans were never advocates of terrorism yet they bore the brunt of the punishment for 9/11. Pakistan, supposedly an ally, has proved to be perfidious, driving the violence in Afghanistan for its own cynical, hegemonic reasons. Pakistan’s generals and mullahs have done great harm to their own people as well as their Afghan neighbors and NATO allies. Pakistan, not Afghanistan, has been the true enemy.'"

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"We Kill People Based on Metadata"

David Cole hat den früheren Chef der CIA und der NSA, Michael Hayden, in einer Debatte zu dem offenen Eingeständnis bewegt, dass viele "gezielte Tötungen" der USA auf der Analyse gesammelter NSA-Metadaten beruhen. Das Argument der NSA-Befürworter, dass "nur" Metadaten gesammelt würden, verliere immer mehr an Überzeugungskraft. Die neue Gesetzesinitiative des US-Kongresses zur Einschränkung der Überwachung sei möglicherweise das Zeichen einer "fundamentalen" Kehrtwende. "The fact that the USA Freedom Act has achieved such wide-ranging support may be less an indication of its compromises than of a fundamental shift in American views. In July 2013, following the Snowden revelations, the Pew Research Center reported that for the first time since it started asking the question in 2004, more Americans expressed concern that counter-terrorism measures were infringing their civil liberties than worried that the government was not doing enough to keep them safe. Congress is responsive to such shifts in popular opinion. The question now is whether that new attitude can be translated into more systemic reform, or whether enactment of this bill will placate enough people that the demand for further reform fizzles."

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"How Many Have We Killed?"

Der US-Senat habe die US-Regierung auf Drängen des Weißen Hauses in einer neuen Gesetzesvorlage von der Pflicht enthoben, die Öffentlichkeit über die Zahl der Opfer gezielter Tötungen im Ausland zu informieren, schreibt David Cole. Obama selbst habe bisher den Tod von gerade einmal vier Personen eingestanden. "International law acknowledges that killing is not always illegal or wrong, and that a government has the authority to do so as a last resort in genuine self-defense. But if the US government’s targeted killings are lawful, we should have no hesitation in making them public. Surely the least we can do is to literally count and report the lives we’ve taken. Yet even that, for 'the most transparent administration in history,' is apparently too much."

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"Afghanistan: The Desert of Death"

In seiner Reportage aus Afghanistan bemüht Anatol Lieven gleich mehrere literarische Anspielungen, um den Zustand des Landes ein Jahr vor dem wahrscheinlichen Ende des internationalen Militäreinsatzes zu beschreiben. Sein Fazit für die Zukunft: Friedensverhandlungen mit den Taliban würden auch künftig schwierig bleiben, seien letztlich aber alternativlos. "Rather than the Taliban sweeping Vietnam-style over the ramparts and destroying the regime after US forces withdrawal, what we may well see in southern Afghanistan for a number of years to come is a patchwork of local truces in some areas and battles in others, depending largely on local tribal rivalries, and agreement (or lack of it) on the division of the heroin trade. As after 1989, however, this situation is unlikely to be stable, for such local compromises are deeply vulnerable to pressures from powerful outside forces, in Afghanistan itself and in the region. (...) Yet the West must still pursue peace with the Taliban. For the alternative to a settlement is a civil war with no foreseeable end, fueled not only by Afghan hatreds but by aid from Pakistan, India, Russia, and Iran to their local proxies."

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