My namesake, Christopher Davies, was killed in Afghanistan last month, The 22 year old from St Helens served in the 1st Battalion Irish Guards; he was hit by small arms fire while taking part in a security patrol in Helmand province. By all accounts, and there are many of them, he was a model professional soldier and a very popular man with all who knew him.
The European Parliament has just expressed its views on the need for a new strategy in Afghanistan. It says nothing that can't be found from other sources but is still worth citing.
It says that a revised strategy should face up to the deterioration both in security and in socio-economic indicators in Afghanistan despite almost a decade of international involvement.
The insurgency is financed largely by the money extracted by war lords and local mafia bosses to protect the US military supply chain. We are paying for the weapons used against us.
The number of people living below the poverty threshold has more than doubled since we commenced military operations.
Up to 80% of international aid has never reached the people of Afghanistan. Most US aid never leaves the USA.
Scant regard has been paid by the international community to the involvement of Afghan people.
Afghanistan is today the source of 90% of the world’s illicit opium yet when coalition forces entered Kabul in 2001 no opium poppies were being grown in the country. The opium trade now accounts for 26% of Afghan GDP, with most of the money going to government officials and regional brokers (only 4% to the Taliban).
Of 94,000 men in the Afghan National Police 90% are illiterate and 30% go missing within a year of joining.
Parliament recognised that negotiations with the Taliban are essential for a political solution.
If we had really tried very hard indeed, would it have been possible for us to have made an even worse mess of things than this?