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Abstract

Over the last 15 years, the world's media outlets have written thousands and thousands of articles, reports, books, blog posts, and other pieces about Afghanistan. Among these myriads, one can certainly find quite a few stories of ordinary life, of success, of hope, and of triumph. Nevertheless, when the world has talked about Afghanistan in the years since the American-led invasion, it has overwhelmingly done so through the lens of military security. In this article, we argue that doing so presents a picture of the situation there that is incomplete, and problematically so. In focusing on military security, we argue that observers, scholars, and – most crucially – policy-makers have ignored what we call "demographic security:" threats to the lives and livelihoods of a population that stem from fundamental characteristics of that population in and of itself. An assessment of Afghanistan's situation through the lens of demographic security provides important insights into why the current conflict seems so intractable – and why it is likely to stay that way absent significant policy changes.

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