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In 1880, David Barbour, a member of the Indian Civil Service, published a pamphlet called Our Afghan Policy and the Occupation of Candahar. Barbour argued that the British war in Afghanistan was both morally unjustifiable and politically inexpedient.

One of his more striking assessments was that ‘the thorough occupation of Afghanistan, including the Provinces of Cabul, Candahar, Herat, and Afghan Turkestan by troops who could under all circumstances be depended on, would require the services of 60,000 English troops’.

At the end of July this year there were approximately 64,500 Nato troops in Afghanistan. Yet the thorough occupation of the country – let alone its transformation into a stable democracy –  seems as remote as ever.

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