By Ray Fleming

THE recent 10th anniversary of the start of the current Afghanistan War passed relatively quietly.
Whether this was by accident or design, I am not sure, but there is certainly little reason to make much of an anniversary which can only draw attention to a conflict that has achieved few of its initial objectives and is still not yet over.

This week Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, has given it as his opinion that it will not be possible to judge whether the campaign has succeeded “until 2018, ‘19, ‘20” -- a realistic forecast, no doubt, but nonetheless a very depressing one.

It is remarkable that everything moved so quickly and encouragingly in the early days.

By November 12, 2001, the Taliban's occupation of the capital Kabul was ended and by the end of November it had retreated from its Kandahar stronghold.

In December the Bonn Conference of countries involved in the Afghan campaign and attended by an Afghan delegation led by Hamid Karsai met to plan the political process by which the country would return to democratic civilian rule.

A decade later, on December 5, 2011, another Bonn Conference will meet to plan the process leading to final US and NATO military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It has been a long road yet the reality is that the final destination is not yet in sight.


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