A friend in Afghanistan reminded me of what might have been had the West used Najibullah, the Afghan president abandoned by the Soviet Union, as their pawn rather than green-lighting the Pakistan-backed Taliban take-over of the country. In this last desperate interview with the New York Times in March 1992, a few months before he was toppled and hanged by the Taliban, Najibullah warned:

If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many more years... Afghanistan will turn into a center of world smuggling for narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a center for terrorism.

Najibullah was a former head of the secret police and had sent many to their deaths, but everything is relative, especially with hindsight and especially in Afghanistan. It might have been a different story if...