It’s a hopeful message—at least as hopeful as one can expect in that part of the world—but still not an entirely convincing one. Bergen’s argument, made at greater length here, points toward the conclusion that Pakistan, for all its internal tensions and contradictions, will remain at least a minimally cohesive, functional, legitimate state. For our effort to succeed in Afghanistan, though, we’ll likely need it to be much more than that. And how we get to that point remains as unclear as ever.

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Greg Marx is an adjunct lecturer at The Medill School and a facilitator with The OpEd Project. She served as an editorial board member, columnist, library director, and No. 2 in the features department of the Chicago Sun-Times.