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A meeting this past Tuesday near Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad could possibly mark the beginning of the end of America's longest war – the conflict in Afghanistan, which will enter its 15th year this fall.Yet, says Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's former chief of staff, he's dead wrong.When he first met Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, Powell refused to shake his hand.But over the course of his decade as Blair's most important aide, Powell came to recognize that terrorism cannot be solved exclusively or largely by military means. Governments are loath to talk to terrorists. Powell points out, most governments end up talking to terrorists.The fact that the Taliban remain a force to be reckoned with – after almost 14 years of American military intervention, a surge that tripled American forces in the field, several elections, and $1 trillion spent to oppose it – suggests that it has some significant public support.In fact, Powell is bold enough to suggest that it could.
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