Afghanistan - Is It Mission Impossible?



Eddie Mair chairs a debate at Chatham House in London about Britain's role in Afghanistan.

In October 2008 a Radio 4 poll suggested that 68 per cent of Britons wanted to see UK troops withdraw from Afghanistan within 12 months. Now, a year later, Britain seems more mired in the conflict than ever and the troops remain in place.

An expert panel debate the case for Britain's continued military presence and give their views on whether or not the attempt to create a stable Afghanistan was ever achievable.


As President Obama debates whether to send even more troops to the country, and the British death toll there rises, Eddie Mair chairs a debate at Chatham House in London about how close the west is to achieving its ambitions in Afghanistan.

What is its 'mission'? To close down terrorist cells in the country, making the UK a safer place? To introduce democracy, greater freedom for women, more electricity, water?

Taking part in the debate are:

Francesc Vendrell, who was the European Union's Special Representative for Afghanistan from 2002 to 2008; before that he was the Personal Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan.

Brigadier Buster Howes, who is the Head of Overseas Operations at the MOD.

Eric Joyce, a former major in the army and now a Labour MP. He resigned as an aide to the defence secretary, calling on Gordon Brown to make clear to the British people that the Afghanistan campaign was 'time limited'.

Lindsey German, a senior organiser of the Stop the War Coalition.

Dr John Mackinlay, a counter-insurgency expert from King's College, London.

Eddie Mair chairs a debate about the continuing western involvement in Afghanistan.