There has been a welcome lack of triumphalism from the Tory visit to Afghanistan and, unless I have missed it, a welcome lack of posing in body armour and camouflage gear. The talk has been of speeding up the training of the Afghan National Army so we can leave. This is of course a figleaf – the Afghan National Army is an anti-Pashtun alliance with US weapons, and will never be able to control the country. But the pragmatic desire to get out of there, whatever the excuse, is welcome.
I have been much heartened to see Bill Patey very close with the delegation, as UK Ambassador to Afghanistan. Bill’s predecessor, Sherard Cowper Coles, famously advocated that we should remain in military occupation for decades more to try to improve Afghanistan. I can guarantee that Bill will have no such crazed notions.