The war in Afghanistan is being lost. It is best to acknowledge that plainly. A survey coming out of Kabul conducted by the Senlis think-tank suggests that 54 per cent of Afghanistan is now in the control of the Taliban.
The Foreign Office may dispute the figure but it cannot quarrel with the substance of the findings: armed Taliban checkpoints are increasing in parts of the country. Taliban recruiters have infiltrated refugee camps. Afghan shopkeepers have abandoned many of the arterial routes into Helmand province for fear of Taliban attacks. Rural workers, fleeing Taliban encroachment, are crowding into cities in search of work. All this against a backdrop of a war in which British troops, now in greater numbers in Afghanistan than in Iraq, are engaged in the toughest battles they have experienced since the Second World War.
More troops are not the answer, despite the pleas from British ministers for our Nato allies to pull their weight. Military occupation was only ever supposed to be security cover for the reconstruction of the country that was promised by the international community but which never materialised….