William R. Polk travels to Afghanistan





Back in 1958, the Atlantic published "The Lesson of Iraq," by a young Harvard professor named William R. Polk. The breaking Iraqi news that then required explanation was the military coup that overthrew the Hashemite monarchy and created the Republic, which Saddam Hussein would later control.

Writing at a time when most of the world was unrecognizably different from now -- tens of millions of Chinese were starving to death during the famines of Mao's Great Leap Forward, the United States was reacting in fear to the recent Soviet launch of Sputnik, France and Germany were taking their first wary steps toward post-war cooperation -- Polk made points that are all too recognizably current....

In the past few weeks, this same William R. Polk -- who has had a long career as professor, author, and foreign-policy advisor* in the intervening 52 years -- traveled to Afghanistan to report on prospects there. Last week he sent a summary around privately to associates. With his permission, we are publishing his whole dispatch on our site. You can read it here. It is lengthy and discursive, but as I reached the end of each page I felt a grim compulsion to go on to the next....



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