It's hard to be completely objective about the outcome of Cameron's visit to the troops in Afghanistan but I get the impression he was more welcomed than Brown ever was. Like the rest of us, the Forces are listening to the words and waiting to see the follow-through action but there is a sense of optimism that, this time, it might be different.
Blair and Brown blithely sent the country to war with no thought for manpower, funding or equipment and then when problems arose, they lied and covered-up, thinking of their own political reputations and their 'legacies' rather than the welfare of our troops. Even the ineffectual Bollox Bob Ainsworth has decided the coast is clear enough for him to come out and criticise past defence policies.
I doubt Cameron & Co will go down the same route and so far he's made some encouraging noises.
"That is why we came here. That is why we cleared away those training camps. If we left tomorrow, those training camps could come back tomorrow, because today the Afghans aren't yet ready to look after their own security. As soon as they are ready – and you are helping to train them to be ready – then we can leave and go home."
Something else would help too and that's the Afghanis themselves. If, instead of leaving their country and letting someone else fight their wars, they stayed & played a more positive role in cleaning up their politics, getting rid of the warlord mentality and building the foundations of a modern state, we'd all be out of there a lot quicker. It's time to sort out the bumper poppy harvests too and stop the drugs trafficking. If GMO crops are such a wonderful blessing for mankind then let Monsanto plant up Afghanistan with them, for free, as a humanitarian gesture to replace the poppy fields and give the farmers a living wage.
There still seems to be confusion over a British role in clearing Taliban-infested Kandahar. Depending which paper you read and which day of the week it is, we're either going or we're not. The latest is we're not but we might be. The Sec of State for Defence, Liam Fox, says we're not but US Gen Stanley McChrystal is hinting we might. He's also laying the ground for a longer stay in Afghanistan than any British politician wants.
Speaking at a NATO meeting in Brussels, he said: "I do think that it will happen more slowly than we had originally intended. It's more important we get it right than we get it fast."
He said he would know by the end of the year "whether it's progressing", but added: "I don't know whether we'll know whether it is decisive."
One thing Cameron should do asap is speak to Obama - not about his unhelpful BP rhetoric - but about this: US calls again for UK/Argentina talks. The sovereignty of the Falklands is non-negotiable and it's about time Obama showed the quality of statesmanship we expect from the USA. Cameron really should have nipped this one in the bud by now.