By Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times
".....All hope was buried in a cascade of hypotheticals. Victory would be at hand “if only” the Afghan army were better, if the poppy crop were suppressed, the Pakistan border sealed, the Taliban leadership assassinated, corruption eradicated, hearts and minds won over. None of this is going to happen. The generals know it but the politicians dare not admit it. "
"...[T]hose who still support the “good” Afghan war reply to any criticism by attempting to foreclose debate. They assert that we cannot be seen to surrender to the Taliban and we have gone in so far and must “finish the job”.
This is policy in denial. Nothing will improve without the support of the Afghan government, yet that support is waning by the month. Nothing will improve without the commitment of Pakistan. Yet two weeks ago Nato bombed Pakistani troops inside their own country, losing what lingering sympathy there is for America in an enraged Islamabad. Whoever ordered the attack ought to be court-martialled, except it was probably a computer. "
"Seven recent books on relations between Al-Qaeda and the Taliban ...[s]cream one policy message: do not drive Al-Qaeda, set on crazy world domination, into the arms of the Taliban, set only on Pashtun nationalism. Do everything to separate them. Western strategy has done the precise opposite."
"...The Taliban’s chief objective is not world domination but a share of power in Afghanistan. While they cannot defeat western troops, they can defeat Nato’s war aim by continuing to build on their marriage of convenience with Al-Qaeda, which supplies them with a devastating arsenal of suicide bombers. "