But negotiating a more inclusive government now, one that brings in elements of the Taliban and other insurgents, remains an epic challenge of diplomacy. "It's like designing a mission to Mars – the complexity of it is really quite great," said Stephen Biddle with the Council on Foreign Relations in an interview last year.
Yet, in the weeks before bin Laden’s death, several moves occurred that could fortify the diplomatic track in Afghanistan even as the war enters a period that is expected to be particularly violent:
•Turkey has offered to let the Taliban open an office there, according to Abdul Hakim Mujahid, the former Taliban ambassador to the United Nations and member of the High Peace Council, a body set up by Karzai to lead the peace process that includes both former Taliban members and warlords. This would establish a third-party location for talks to occur.
•Pakistan and Afghanistan have established a high-level commission to facilitate peace talks. This group has real decisionmaking power since it includes top elected officials, representatives of the foreign services, and – crucially in Pakistan – top representatives of the militaries.