With the increasing list of military casualties from Afghanistan and the lack of resources for the British Army to rely on, its a fair question to ask as to whether we should withdraw from Afghanistan and concentrate more on surveillance and more subtle forms of intelligence in the fight against terrorism.
Its something I am starting to be in two minds about, having been resolutely supportive of the war in Afghanistan since it started in 2001. The problem is that on one hand we have been fighting for seven and a half years in a mountainous nation that has flummoxed many a western power before (more recently the former USSR from 1979-1988), where loyalties are based on tribal affiliations and not so much on western democratic ideals and moral codes. It's almost like single-handedly trying to climb out of a canyon without help from any rescue services!
On the other hand Afghanistan is part of the cradle of some of the most dangerous network of terrorists in the World. A group that was sheltered willingly and knowingly by the Taliban when they controlled Afghanistan in a way that made medieval barbarians blush. Does anyone honestly think that if we pull out of Afghanistan that these groups will be grateful! That they are people to negotiate with? These groups live on a culture of death and hate western culture and western democracy! They see us as the enemy and will not stop until we are trampled underfoot. Never forget that it was they who started this, and in the most heinous way, by ploughing two planes into the Twin Towers with the successful aim of killing as many ordinary men, women, and children as possible! Should we give those responsible an iota of victory?
It's like being stuck between the devil and the Deep Blue Sea. My own take is that I have doubts about our capabilities in staying in Afghanistan, but that we have no choice and that we must use all efforts to stamp on Al Qaeda in the most effective ways possible.
Part of the tragedy of that is that we might have been far more successful in Afghanistan if we didn't allow ourselves to be diverted by Iraq, thus breaking up some of the western consensus, and thus spreading out our military capabilities when they should have been concentrated on one area.