This chapter explains that Afghanistan's problems during the early twenty-first century can best be understood by examining where they fit past patterns and where they break from them. The prospects for bringing stability to Afghanistan hinge on whether these problems can be rectified in a way that Afghans find acceptable. Both Afghans and foreigners remain tied to visions of what they wish the country to be that its present reality and possible futures have been obscured. The long view of Afghanistan and its history, however, presents possibilities for resolving the country's current problems, but it also presents warnings about how even the best-planned policies can fail.
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