A fundamental shift has quietly taken place in Britain’s approach to Afghanistan: the focus is now on leaving, not winning. Con Coughlin asks if we are seeing the return of the politics of appeasementIt is difficult to pinpoint the precise moment that David Cameron gave up on the war in Afghanistan. But the Prime Minister’s indisputable position today is that the Nato campaign is unwinnable, and that the sooner Britain withdraws its 10,000-strong combat contingent the better.
The extraordinary raw intelligence leaks from the Afghan battlefield confirmed what many people already believed, or feared, about the war. But amidst the avalanche of documents, several new facts have emerged. We now know, for example, that civilians are being killed in much larger numbers than officially admitted by Nato. We know that the Taleban has acquired surface-to-air missiles which downed Western helicopters.
The moment on the video that really hurts, that really digs in — if you are a human being, rather than an ape — is when Marian runs to the prone and inert body of her grandfather and, bending down, distraught, implores him to move, pawing at his body with her hands. She is so small and ineffectual against this sudden new thing in her life, death. Her granddaddy will never move again. Marian is just three years old.
The great debate about the full-face Muslim veil is usually cast in terms of religious rights, says Carol Sarler. But what about my right to see who I’m talking to?So we’re all agreed then. The great burka debate has enthusiastically consumed recent weeks, even though its conclusion was never in doubt: nobody actually intends to ban the thing. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman was correctly smacked for gushing that the garment ‘empowered’ women, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown raged against it as ‘a perversion of our faith’, while on these pages last week Hugo Rifkind more calmly disparaged the robe as ‘rude’.
The scandal over Liliane Bettencourt’s L’Oréal fortune is exposing the way French high society operates, says Patrick Marnham. And it is harming President Sarkozy in the pollsIt all started as a banal family squabble over €17 billion. Liliane Bettencourt is heir to the L’Oréal family fortune and among the 20 wealthiest individuals in the world. She is 87 years old, a widow and rather deaf, and she lives alone with half a dozen servants in a mansion in Neuilly, the most expensive suburb in the Paris region.
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the continental midday sun. But at least the mad dogs don’t dress in vests, belly-hugging T-shirts or those cut-off trousers that make short men shorter and fat men fatter. Why do they do it? How has it happened that you can spot Holidaymakerus britannicus in an instant, from the other side of the piazza — from the far end of the tapas bar? The romantic legend that the British provide a model of good dress still lingers on.
The biggest risk to the economy is not government cuts, says John Redwood, but lack of credit. There’s plenty ministers can do to get companies, and people, borrowing againThis time it is different. Normally the UK economy bounces back from a downturn, and we have several years of rising prosperity. Today there are many experts who fear another downturn hard on the heels of the big recession we have just lived through.