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Afghanistan's Ethnic Puzzle

Decentralizing Power Before the U.S. Withdrawal

Author: Thomas Barfield
September/October 2011
Foreign Affairs


In 2001, fearing ethnic strife, the international community pushed for a strong central government in Kabul. But such fears were based on a false reading of Afghan history and fostered a system of regional and ethnic patronage. To correct matters, the United States should de-emphasize Afghanistan's ethnic fault lines and push for more devolved and inclusive governance.

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