The war in Afghanistan is the defining action of Mr Brown’s administration, just as the war in Iraq defined Mr Blair’s. Now the first round of the election is over, it is time to ask what is the purpose of our mission, how long will our troops need to be there, and when will the Afghan security forces be in a position to police their own streets successfully? We need some answers.
If the government is determined to fight such a big war as intensively as in the recent past, it needs to make more men and equipment available. It needs to tackle the high level of casualties as a priority. It also needs to be more forthcoming in its explanations to the British people of what it is doing, why it matters, and what support it is offering to our armed forces. I would rather the UK government talked seriously to the new Afghan government once formed to set out a timetable for Afghan troops to take over the front line roles from ours, moving us to a support and training role.
Meanwhile, it could be significant that the Sun has taken such a tough line. Maybe they are picking up a shift in mood in their readership. Most of the people I talk to are at best in two minds about what we are doing in Afghanistan, and are united in wanting our troops to be given more support and back up for their arduous and dangerous mission.