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What would Byzantium do?

If the west really wants to fix Afghanistan, it should learn from an ancient, brutal empire

By Edward Luttwak   February 2010

The Byzantine art of war and diplomacy would prove useful in today’s Afghanistan

Even by the shortest reckoning, the Byzantine empire survived for eight centuries (from the fourth to the twelfth)—longer than any other in history. Although the Byzantines were supremely tenacious in combat, their strategy—invented in response to the unprecedented threat of Attila’s Huns in the 5th century—relied on diplomacy, evolving into a body of rules and techniques that is still relevant today.

Unlike the Romans, the Byzantines wrote official guidebooks on statecraft, foreign relations and espionage: writings I find especially fascinating, as I once helped compose the main…

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