As the Obama administration and the rest of the international community grapple with the challenge of stabilizing Afghanistan, analogies have proliferated as fast as insurgents. Policymakers should learn from experiences in Iraq, one hears -- or Vietnam, or Malaya, and so on. Ironically, the best analogy may lie right next door in Tajikistan.
Soon after gaining its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Tajikistan collapsed into a devastating civil war. Government forces, Islamists, and local warlords battled one another across its wildly remote and mountainous territory in a prolonged conflict that killed thousands of people, displaced half a million residents, and stranded 80 percent of the population in grinding poverty. Many of the combatants sustained their efforts by taking part in a multibillion-dollar drug trade, while extremists based in lawless frontier provinces launched terror attacks on neighboring states.
Today, Tajikistan is still corrupt and authoritarian, but it is also tolerably stable
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