War in Afghanistan can\\\'t be won (1)

On 28 January, foreign ministers from around the world will gather in London for a conference on Afghanistan. The aim is to mobilise international efforts behind a plan for how to deploy military and civilian resources on the ground. The London conference will be chaired by the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. Writing exclusively in the New Statesman this week ahead of the conference, Mr Miliband stresses the importance of a \\\"clear political strategy\\\", and says: \\\"We will be looking to President Karzai\\\'s government to show that its intentions on security and governance will be carried through into action.\\\"
The Karzai government, however, has much work to do. So, too, do Nato forces. The harsh reality is that Afghanistan continues to lack both effective security and good governance. On 18 January, Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers launched a spectacularly brazen attack in the heart of Kabul, killing five people, wounding more than 70 others and striking a blow at the image that Nato forces and the Afghan government have tried to propagate: of a country heading towards peace, calm and normality.
The truth is that violent attacks of one sort or another are common in the capital. According to one estimate, there is a \\\"security incident\\\" every seven to ten days, on average, in Kabul. Meanwhile, a map published last year by the International Council on Security and Development showedthat the Taliban have a \\\"permanent presence\\\" across four-fifths of Afghanistan - with \\\"permanent presence\\\" in any province defined as one or more insurgent attacks, lethal or non-lethal, a week.
The fighting in Afghanistan has intensified in recent months, but with no real security gains for ordinary Afghans. Figures released by the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan show that civilian casualties rose significantly in 2009, to 2,412 - up 14 per cent on 2008. The rise made 2009 the deadliest year for Afghans since the war began in October 2001. With President Obama\\\'s decision to escalate the war by sending in 30,000 extra troops, this conflict will become only bloodier in 2010. The coffins of dead British soldiers will continue to arrive at Wootton Bassett.
(Courtsey New Statesman )