Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown has this week voiced his concerns over our UK troops continued presence in Afghanistan. It is doubtful that his motivation is political. Mr Ashdown has a military past and will know all too well the high price many are paying for this ongoing war in Afghanistan.
As other foreign troops leave the region it will make the job harder for those that remain. If the mission had been successful that may not have been the case but it has clearly failed. That is no criticism of those involved. They have given their all. They give until there is nothing left to give. You may have to conclude that Afghanistan is not a winnable war.
Invading a country is always a tough decision. It should never be taken lightly. An increase in terrorism and 9/11 backed the West, and in particular the US, into a corner. We took the bait and have been paying the price ever since. Now it appears to be a case of two steps forward and three steps back.
The whole Middle East region is currently "wobbling" That word seems the most fitting. There are unsafe regimes and governments, unsatisfied people, high unemployment, corruption, poverty and there is religious hatred. A terrible combination. A huge bomb of discontent waiting to explode. How far the blast reaches will be down to us.
Put yourself for one moment though in the shoes of an Afghan. Perhaps a young man aged 17. You will only remember conflict, poverty and perhaps bereavement. You will have had more than your fair share of pain. You could have been indoctrinated from an early age. You have known your country overrun by foreign forces and have experienced little freedom as we know it. You may have seen or known more horror than a person aged 100 should in a lifetime.
Hardly a recipe for civil obedience. And of course obedience to what and to whom?
There will be some who will want a better life and overcome all of this. For some it will not be so easy. We are all different. That is how it should be.
Move away from Afghanistan and look at the families and communities of those who served in Afghanistan. They now face a different set of challenges. An increase in citizens coping with the fall out of conflict, PTSD. Some will also be physically challenged whilst there will be children who have lost a parent in this conflict. Another recipe for unhappy lives unless care is taken.
Afghanistan is far from settled. Should we continue to offer hurt on all sides. We think not. We tend to agree with Mr Ashdown. According to the guardian he said, "allied forces have failed to build a sustainable state and establish a government which was untainted by corruption."
He went on, "We cannot pretend there is any more to do in Afghanistan. The urgent priority is to get out. It is not worth wasting one more life in Afghanistan. All that we can achieve has now been achieved. All that we might have achieved if we had done things differently, has been lost."The only rational policy now is to leave quickly, in good order and in the company of our allies. This is the only cause for which further lives should be risked."
He blamed the International community for failing to establish a functioning state with the country's leaders and neighbours. "The international community in Afghanistan needed to speak with a single voice in pursuit of a single plan with clear priorities" "Instead we have been divided, cacophonous, chaotic. We should have concentrated on winning in Afghanistan where it mattered, instead of distracting ourselves with adventures in Iraq.
"We should have engaged Afghanistan's neighbours, instead of going out of our way to make them enemies. Our early military strategy should have been about protecting the people instead of wasting our time chasing the enemy. "We should have made fighting corruption our first priority instead of becoming the tainted partners of a corrupt government whose writ, along with ours, has progressively collapsed as that of the Taliban in the south has progressively widened."
Mr Ashdown's article published online on Friday November 16, 2012 has been condemned by some. You need to bear in mind though that some countries have already left this war. He is not alone in thinking that it is a lost cause, is he?.
You can read the full Guardian report here