Barney Frank’s Nov. 8 column, “Afghanistan must stand on its own,” demonstrated the woeful ignorance with which our policymakers approach this region.

Afghanistan has never had any semblance of a centralized government. It’s been a fractured tribal society since Alexander the Great. This is both the region’s curse and its blessing. Invading nations can take the capital, Kabul, and accomplish nothing.

To a lesser extent, one can say the same of Iraq or any other Mesopotamian state. These principalities, for the most part, were designed by European colonialists under the Sykes-Picot Treaty after World War I and have no ethnic, tribal, religious or cultural significance to the people who lived there.

I’m afraid that in order to achieve any hope of lasting peace, the Semitic societies will have to undergo an evolutionary process of designing their own borders, an Islamic reformation not unlike our “Protestant Reformation” to resolve the differences between the Sunni and Shia, plus an age of enlightenment to mitigate the extreme elements of religion.

In other words, if our European, Judeo-Christian experience is any example, they have about seven centuries of work cut out for them.

John M. Flagler