If anyone wants to understand the shame of Afghanistan – the yearly cull of civilians, the beheadings, the execution by single shots, the kidnapping of women – they have only to read the shocking UN report just published in Kabul. It is laced with fearful eyewitness descriptions of brutality. Isis features in its 87 pages with its usual depravity (in Afghanistan, of course, not in Iraq or Syria) and the report’s statistics show clearly that, last year, there were more civilians killed or wounded in the country than in any year since 2009.
In 2015 alone, 3,545 civilians were killed and 7,457 injured. Since 2009, the total civilian dead – not soldiers, militiamen or Taliban – comes to 21,323 dead. And this, remember, is the graveyard of empires into which we blithely trod after 9/11 on the basis that we would not “forget” Afghanistan again. We would see it through to the end. The Taliban, in the words of a Canadian commander, were “scumbags”. Our soldiers would not die in vain. And it has come to this.