That date is unknown. Like Blair and Brown before him, Cameron aspires to ‘improve Afghan security’. ‘Stability’ surely means the expulsion of al Qaeda from Afghanistan. How likely is that without the complete co-operation of the Taliban? (At what cost would that be secured?) And, as Julian Lewis MP pointed out, is al Qaeda more dangerous in Afghanistan than it is The Yemen, Somalia or Pakistan?
The grand strategy remains indistinct and an outright victory impossible. At the same time, early withdrawal would inspire al Qaeda to further atrocities. There is little option besides ‘seeing it through’, however heavy the sacrifice.