Throughout the holidays the British media, perhaps for lack of other emotive news, have been focusing on British military casualties in Afghanistan in an almost morbid way. In previous major wars such case by case accounts would not have been possible, or even allowed.
It seems to me that editors and the public generally should try to understand the wider context. Where would Afghanistan now be if Al Qaeda and its Taleban supporters had not been resisted by force? The recent elections may have been imperfect, but could they have been held at all, with many candidates for the presidency, if British and American forces were not resisting the insurgents? No girls now would be receiving education, if the Taleban were in power.
Of course, many mistakes have been made in the conduct of the campaign and in the provision of aid and reconstruction resources. There may have been a lack of clear purpose, combined with divided responsibilities. From now on we should aim to provide security for all Afghan civilians, with the help of their own police and army. We should seek to win hearts and minds, so that the Afghan people as a whole can freely decide their own future, without threatening their neighbours in our interdependent world.