The United States should diplomatically recognize Afghanistan’s Taliban government. That’s not easy for us to say as a former Afghan ambassador and former CIA regional counterterrorism chief. Doing so will be perceived as a painful betrayal to many, but the alternative—allowing Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into a hermit kingdom and forsaking the insight and means to influence or shape events—would mean more dire consequences for all.

The Taliban’s ironclad grip on the country is now an undeniable reality, as is the threat the regime poses to its own people, its neighbors, and the United States. Despite being an uneasy coalition of religious zealots, political pragmatists, and unpredictables, the new rulers have cemented their power, while resisting most attempts at moderation.

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