Thursday, February 22, 2007

You Decide

Cheney: UK Troop Withdrawal 'Sign of Success' in Iraq.

Excerpts: Feb. 21. Vice President Cheney tells ABC News that British P.M.Tony Blair's just-announced troop reduction is a sign progress is being made in Iraq….

"In fact, I talked to a friend just the other day who had driven to Baghdad down to Basra, seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved from a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view they had made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore reduce their force levels," Cheney said.

Yesterday afternoon at Informed Comment, Juan Cole posted: "Tony Blair is taking 1600 troops out of Basra in the next few months and will aim to be down to only 3,000 or so (from 7,100 now) by the end of the year. Denmark is also going home....

This is a rout, there should be no mistake. The fractious Shiite militias and tribes of Iraq's South have made it impossible for the British to stay. They already left Sadr-controlled Maysan province, as well as sleepy Muthanna. They moved the British consulate to the airport because they couldn't protect it in Basra. They are taking mortar and rocket fire at their bases every night. Raiding militia HQs has not resulted in any permanent change in the situation. Basra is dominated by 4 paramilitaries, who are fighting turf wars with one another and with the Iraqi government over oil smuggling rights.

Blair is not leaving Basra because the British mission has been accomplished. He is leaving because he has concluded that it cannot be, and that if he tries any further it will completely sink the Labor Party, perhaps for decades to come."

I’m finding the contrast in opinions about why the British are leaving and whether or not they have accomlished anything very interesting. For those who want to follow this, The End of the Alliance, by New York Times op-ed contributor, Bartle Breese Bull, is worth reading. He reports on some good news: Thanks to British oversight and protection, Saddam Hussein’s cruel efforts to drain the country’s southern marshes have been completely reversed. The marshes are now back to about 40 percent of their original size, with parts visibly flourishing. (With 75 percent of the water of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers now siphoned off by neighboring countries before it gets to Iraq, it is unlikely that the marshes will ever recover fully.)

1 comment:

Jack Ragsdale said...

I am a friend of Mgt, and a fellow blogger. Read your short biog w/ interest. The Communist madness of the 50s and 60s is repeated today in Iraq. GWB's plan is have war as our life goal. Good work. Jack