The blood runs cold at the image of the attempted murder of Malala.
Miraculously she survived a shot to the head. Her crime was campaigning for education for girls. Supporters of UK's intervention in Afghanistan claim new proof of Taliban barbarity that justifies the sacrifice of British lives. They disregarded the embarrassing fact that this vile act took place in Pakistan. Threats to the UK come from Pakistan, Somalia and the Yemen.
There is no terrorist threat to the UK from Afghanistan. There never has been, But that is the big lie that has been used to justify sending 433 UK soldiers to their deaths. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond repeated on Monday that the only reason that justifies asking UK soldiers to risk their lives was to counter a threat to the UK. Where is it?
Inevitably there are more nightmares ahead. The tragedy of Malala is rooted in the expectations we raised that the education of girls can be universal in Afghanistan. Others will die as the Taliban take their revenge. We promised too much. It was an impossible dream to believe that a 13th century society can be reformed rapidly into a 21st one.
The Government buried their heads in the sand. They promise to protect the fragile advances in women's rights. Already the Taliban are in control in large tracts of the country, running courts, collecting taxes and policing. Schools have been closed. Our certain departure will accelerate the inevitable.