How many more of our young people have to die in Afghanistan? How are the US and UK going to prosecute this war, given the way the Taleban can operate over the Pakistan border, in a country that remains a key US and UK ally? What does winning look like? How many troops will it take to pacify the huge territories concerned?
How does all this marry up with President Obama’s wish to have a different relationship with the Islamic countries of the Middle East from that of his predecessor? How can we think Gordon Brown is different in his approach from Tony Blair, when he supported Mr Blair’s wars throughout,and when he seems to be prosecuting them much as Mr Blair would have done?
It is time for Mr Brown to offer us a proper enquiry into the rights and wrongs, successes and failures of his Iraq war. More importantly, it would be good to hear from him in a measured statement about what he is asking the military to do in Afghanistan, how he thinks they can achieve success, and whether he thinks there are enough people with the right equipment to do this huge job.
Every week Prime Minister’s Questions begins with tragic news of further deaths on duty. MPs of all parties are rightly proud of our military, and admire its courage and persistence as it tries to bring peace to a troubled land. MPs generally do need, however, from time to time to ask the government to explain the strategy,and to explain why so many are at risk. We have a duty to all involved to make sure the mission is correctly framed, the troops are well equipped,and success is a realistic outcome from the balance of the task and the ask with the numbers of troops and the firepower.