A British soldier passes a poppy field in Helmand province, 2006. (© John Moore/Getty images)
At the height of the summer, David Cameron flew unannounced into Kabul and Helmand province to explain why, after Britain had spent 12 years battling to defeat the Taliban, he was pressing for talks with them. In open-necked dark shirt and trousers, standing out starkly against the ranks of soldiers in desert fatigues, he shrugged off the recent remarks of Lieutenant-General Nick Carter, Britain’s top general in Afghanistan and Nato’s Deputy Commander in the conflict—that for a decade Britain and the United States had missed crucial chances to talk to the Taliban.
“You can argue about whether the settlement we put in place after 2001 could have been better arranged. Of course you can make that argument,” the Prime Minister said, gesturing with his sunglasses, before adroitly announcing that, to mark Armed Forces Day, the