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In all the fascinating and depressing detail of Prospect’s recent Afghan coverage (“The case for an Afghanistan inquiry,” September; “A culture of silence,” October) one fact screamed out at me. Nothing to do with whether or not we should hold an inquiry into this country’s involvement (though we like inquiries on the Today programme) nor anything to do with the “transition”; no, my eye was caught by a single sentence, a quotation remembered by Bronwen Maddox.

It was our former man in Kabul, Sherard Cowper-Coles, talking about the Afghan government of Mohammad Najibullah, installed by Moscow. I had always lazily…

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