Within the region, those who view the American presence as only fueling the conflict are urging a US withdrawal as well. But others contend a lasting settlement requires ongoing American engagement.
“It all depends on what America does next – are they going to put more pressure on Pakistan [or] will they look at this opportunity as an opportunity to withdraw from Afghanistan?” says Ayesha Siddiqa, a Pakistani security analyst.
The current regime a repeat of Afghanistan's tumultuous history
Peace requires a constant gardener in the soils of Afghanistan. A search through a century of newspaper archives finds a string of dispatches about uprisings against Kabul by the Waziris, the Afridis, the Shinwaris, and other tribes on either side of the border that are at the forefront of the current conflict.
In periods of relative calm, rulers would try spurts of modernization. One article from Afghanistan in 1932 reads: "Afghan Girls Like Attending School."
These moments of spring in Kabul have frosted over because of overly ambitious governments that failed to find a balance among competing groups. Today, even supporters of Mr. Karzai's government argue that the current regime is a repeat of history. They liken the 2001 Bonn Conference in Germany, which created the Karzai government after the fall of the Taliban, to the Treaty of Paris after World War I: a victor's peace that disenfranchised the losers so much that future conflict was all but inevitable.