Ask most refugees what they want most and they will likely say: “To go home.” The long-standing humanitarian aid system was designed for a world where wars between states displaced refugees for short periods of time into refugee camps before they did go home. Today none of these assumptions hold.
With al-Qaeda pushed into Pakistan, more than eight years after the conflict began, it is not enough to explain why the Afghan war started. We need to set out how it will be ended—how to preserve what has been achieved and protect South Asia from a contagion that would affect us all. A political settlement will require a central government with enough power and legitimacy to protect the country, but also an external settlement with Afghanistan’s neighbors. What might such a settlement look like?