Long military campaigns are rarely won or lost on a decisive pitched battle, even if that’s the way history’s camp-fire storytellers like to cast the tale. The fortunes of war rarely turn on events or moments that can be tagged neatly to a place and date. More often, doubt, anxiety and a calculation of loss build gradually in the back of a nation’s mind, until finally a newsworthy reverse trips a switch, the despair is projected to the front, somebody whispers “let’s get out of here”, and soon everyone is edging for the door, claiming it’s what they thought all along — which it sort of was.
The whispers have begun. Slowly but surely, tentatively at first, with many fits and starts, in flurries of denial, and protesting that all’s well and nothing has changed, we are on our way out of Afghanistan. If a dying Labour Government doesn’t begin edging towards the door, the next Conservative one will. Whatever they say.
And, in the meantime, how many more British soldiers must die to cover the politicians' backs?