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LEEDS, England — Thailand’s former prime minister, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, recently ignited a furor when he proposed that the separatist campaign in his country’s Muslim-majority southern provinces might be solved politically, with a form of self-rule. Thailand’s ruling Democrat Party immediately called Chavalit’s remarks “traitorous.”

But recent developments surrounding Afghanistan’s elections have highlighted the shortcomings of using military force alone to resolve a civil war. This precedent offers a lesson for Thailand and other countries facing intractable insurgencies. As Aristotle put it, “politics is the master science in the realm of action.”

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