I found John Cantwell’s ‘They Died in Vain’ (October) interesting but depressing. As a high ranking, experienced and intelligent soldier, one would have thought hundreds of years of history and the experiences of a number of nations, most notably Russia, would have been enough to suggest the war in Afghanistan was going to be extremely difficult to prosecute successfully. From virtually the start, reporters such as Robert Fisk and Paul McGeough warned of the futility of the exercise.
In fairness to Cantwell, the armed forces act at the behest of the government, but it is still surprising that his epiphany in relation to this war took so long and that wider political considerations meant that his expertise and views seemed to be treated with such scant respect. Is there a greater crime of government than its soldiers dying in vain? But then we never learn.