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Ali Gledhill

This is indeed a retreat. But the long-term attempt at training Iraqi forces is a far better plan than the American idea of making up a handover plan as they go along.

Chocolate Cookie Blogger

Has the British Conservative Party opposed this retreat?


This was lost at the beginning when Blair provided such inadequate forces and then used spin to have soldiers wearing berets rather than helmets so the media could report another success for Blair.

The price of being weak is to have to co-opt and kow-tow to local brigands - that was what happened when those Redcaps were murdered and noone executed for their bloody murder. Britain lacked the will and the resources - the incident with the radio, the Redcaps, and the Paras, was a perfect illustration of a bootstrapped occupation.

The Army was given a hopeless task and was forced to integrate militias into the police force. All the time London spouted guff about orthern Ireland it showed how surreal policymaking was - in Northern Ireland the majority backed the British Army; in Basra the majority feared betrayal and a day of reckoning.

Britain has kow-towed to Iran and brought forward the day when the Endgame Conflict will be fought. It has been a sordid betraya of the British Army and I feel terribly saddened for those who lost family members there to death or injury. It has been the product of one vain, stupid man and his incontinence and theatricality. Leo Abse warned about Blair, but he plunged into pit after pit pulling others down with him and scrambling over their corpses to escape himself.

Britain is not able to fulfil roles it once could - it simply lacks the manpower and the means. This is rather like Gordon being sent to Khartoum by Gladstone for a policy he wasn't prepared to back but with consequences that proved disastrous.


But the long-term attempt at training Iraqi forces is a far better plan than the American idea of making up a handover plan as they go along.

You are mad as a hatter. The US has been training the Iraqi Army and equipping it - they have been more cautious than the British because they are in Sunni areas and only the Kurdish units of the Iraqi Army are reliable or competent.

Tony Makara

I was against the invasion of Iraq. Nontheless I do not want to see the country collapse into anarchy. Gordon Brown has withdrawn forces to bolster his own position politically. Ideally I should like to have seen UN peace-keeping troops replace UK troops and eventually US troops also. There needs to be a stabilizing, non-provocative force in Iraq to maintain a degree of order. Only the UN can carry out that role.

Umbrella man

It wasn't just Blair who provided inadequate support for our troops from the beginning, TomTom, it was Brown who supplied inadequate funding. This defeat is Brown's as much as Blair's.

Umbrella man

The answer to your question Chocolate Cookie Blogger is 'no'.

The Conservatives have said nothing substantial.

They won't promise an increase in defence spending.

They won't support the surge but do support engagement with Syria and Iran.

David Cameron hasn't visited Washington since he became Conservative leader.

David Belchamber

We must now redouble our efforts to have a full scale independent inquiry into the events leading up to the Iraq war and we should tie Brown in with the whole unhappy mess. I am sure we all endorse what TomTom said at 06.02:

"I feel terribly saddened for those who lost family members there to death or injury. It has been the product of one vain, stupid man and his incontinence and theatricality".

Blair may well have misled us initially into going to war but Brown, by refusing to provide adequate resources for the troops, is also culpable and that is a stain on his newly found statesmanlike image.

Graham Checker

This column should be called "Britain and American Ar$elicking"

Every article I read is a load of unintelligent, narrow-minded, uncritical neo-con supporting tripe.

It's pathetic.

I bet 80% of this websites supportes are dogmatic, historically illiterate Thatcher admirers who think that 'Britain supporting America' come hell or high water is "sound", being critical of them is "wet" and unconditional support is what "the lady" would have done. Despite the fact she criticised America on many an occassion and had no hesitation in slapping down Reagan when necessary.

If you lot think the path to success for our country is through bending over backwards at the Republican Parties beck'n'call you are totally deluded.

Why don't you support our own bl00dy country and its independent foreign policy for a change?


I have an Ivy League degree, sod off

mr chips

Here here Graham.

The editor is no soldier and should keep out of military and foreign affairs as he knows little of them.

Tim offers no real policy beyond supporting Bush and he seems happy to throw more good British lives down the drain. Indeed, more and more this site and its sister seem unable to set themselves and limits on what they will do to win votes. Dead children, dead soldiers etc are all used to bash Brown, but never does it say how far it will go, how it would change things or how many lives it would spend to win.

Jon Gale

"It has been the product of one vain, stupid man and his incontinence"


But seriously, the war was lost when it was decided to try and "nation build" instead of overthrowing Saddam and leaving. The long occupation just made the militants and anti-westerners stronger while the democrats got discredited.

The sooner all western troops leave the sooner the new regime (most likely Muqtadr al Sadr) will crush Al Qaeda in Iraq and its other enemies.

The only question remaining is how long will it take for America to admit defeat (or more likely proclaim a laughable "victory") and leave.


Here is a quote from a poster in another web site and forum I’ve attended a few times. His name is Albion, I don’t know if it’s the same Albion who’s posted here at B&A. This is an email sent a while back from his “half-brother [who] has just come back from Basra (for the second time).”

"It is not like we don't know who the bad guys are or how to find quite a lot of them. If our job is to rearrange the politics of Iraq more to HMGs liking, we could do that in a week by putting a few hundred significant people up against a wall or arresting them in a forceful manner. Most of Basra would stand up and clap if we did and God knows it was certainly what they expected us to do a few years ago. When you despatch an army its generally an indication your government intends to kill people until sufficient number are either dead or have a significant change of political views. But shooting a useful number of the right people, as opposed to just the people who work for them, was at no time within our mission parameters, what exactly was Tony Blair expecting the outcome to be when he signed us up for this lark?"


And Jon Gale... yeah LOL. Like do the typical, point to America and our "defeat". Keep hoping guy, obviously YOU don't have anything else to fall back on.


"The only question remaining is how long will it take for America to admit defeat (or more likely proclaim a laughable "victory") and leave."

Well, it'll be at least 504 days. That's a long time in war or politics. By then I hope your defeatist comments, Mr. Chips and Mr. Gale, are proven as pathetic as your retreat.


Graham Checker, perhaps you're right. We Americans have it all wrong, and Labor should redouble its efforts. Why does Britain even need an army? The world is at peace (except for the root of all evil, America), so the military should be dismantled so that more money can be poured down that toiled that you Brits euphemistically call "public services."

That will solve everything. No more humiliating captures by Iranian gunboats--because there won't be British naval forces to capture. No more British soldiers will be killed, because there will be no more British soldiers. No more complaints about lack of adequate equipment for the forces, because there will be no more forces to equip.

In fact, you might consider taking it one step further and joining the Respect party. After declaring the United States an enemy, you'll buy the goodwill of the rest of the world and guarantee "peace in our time."

With backstabbing "friends" like you, I'd rather take my chances with our declared enemies, so this will work to everyone's advantage.

Frogg, USA

The Brits have been turning over sections of southern Iraq for well over a year now. Basra is the last (and largest) area. The UK military has been reporting on this anticipated turnover for a year now. So, I am not sure I would view this the way your media presents it. Is it the right time for the Brits to draw more troops back? I don't know. I am not a military planner. But, I would hardly call it a "Brit defeat" as your media does.

UK Basra base exit 'not a defeat'

Brown defends pullout

The withdrawal of British troops from the southern Iraqi city of Basra is not a defeat, Gordon Brown has insisted.
The 550 soldiers have handed Basra Palace over to Iraqi control and joined 5,000 troops at the UK's last base, near the airport, outside the city.

The Ministry of Defence said the handover of Basra province was now due in the autumn.

The prime minister said the withdrawal was "pre-planned and organised" and UK forces would take an "overwatch" role.


Gateway Pundit comes out in defense of the Brits, also:

"The Brits were planning on reducing troop levels all along based on progress of the Iraqi forces and stabilization of the region.
The reason British troops have been able to decrease their numbers is because of the progress in the region. It is not because the UK forces were defeated.
And, the British troop reduction is no secret. Great Britain announced their plans several times since 2003.

The UK is just following the transition plans they established years ago for the fledgling democracy of Iraq..."



Frogg, a question for you: if the United States declared that it will be out of Iraq no matter what in one year, even if it exited while being heavily bombed and mortared and leaving terrorists in control, you wouldn't call that a defeat?

Because that's essentially the situation in which the British forces are leaving southern Iraq.

Another way of putting it: if you don't call that defeat, then what do you define as defeat?

Simon Newman

The mission was never viable. The British army has done as well as could have been expected with the mission and with the limited resources given them.


JF I think that scenerio is exaggerated from media. I don’t know what to make of it but I am inclined to believe its more positive than being reported

The head of the armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup told it this way:

"I'm afraid people had, in many instances, unrealistic aspirations for Iraq, and for the south of Iraq.

"Our mission there was to get the place and the people to a state where the Iraqis could run that part of the country, if they chose to, and we're very nearly there.

"Our mission was not to make the place look like somewhere green and peaceful, because that was never going to be achievable in that timescale.

"And in any event only the Iraqis can fulfil that aspiration."


Steevo, I can see how some would think that as long as Iraqis are in control of Iraq, irrespective of alignment, then the British are leaving Iraq in a better state. Southern Iraq under JAM will surely prosper. In the same way that Iran has become a model country with the Revolutionary Guard in control, in the same way that the Gaza Strip has become a paradise with Hamas in control, and in the same way that Lebanon has been restored to its former glory with Hezbollah in control.

This will mark Britain's second superb handling of Iraq in the past 100 years. Let's not forget that Britain was responsible for creating the country in the first place. Congratulations on a job well done, Britain. I salute you.


Simon Newman, I agree with you, and this is not at all a reflection on the British army, which by all accounts has done a tremendous job given the cards it was dealt. This is a criticism of the British political echelon which did not deal better cards to its armed forces, and which did not redefine the mission as the facts on the ground changed.


Well the facts on the ground in the south show a lot of progress. It has largely been under control. My opinion is Sir Jock Stirrup is giving a more accurate portrayal than big media but probably intent to make this not a ‘failure’ in the eyes of the world. I get a better picture from the 2 term soldier. He’s right there. To me what he’s saying is it really wouldn’t take much to clean it up. But, they have had their hands tied because of bad policy directed from Blair. Its like central and northern Iraq, a relative handful are the problem and you need to go after them 100% and hold the ground won, gradually turning it over to those who are trustworthy and capable.

Most Iraqis want peace.


Steevo, agreed. But that's not the policy that the British government is pursuing. Instead of removing the "relative handful" and building up the institutions of civil society, the British are leaving.

Let's also not forget that the British forces were critical in securing the supply routes from Kuwait. So not only are the British leaving the south in a relatively unstable situation, they are also indirectly inflicting harm on the American efforts in the center of the country. Now the surge efforts will be harmed as forces which otherwise would have been committed to the center will need to be redirected to the south to take over from the British.

Jon Gale


"Well, it'll be at least 504 days. That's a long time in war or politics. By then I hope your defeatist comments, Mr. Chips and Mr. Gale, are proven as pathetic as your retreat."

The Surge troop levels comes to end in December I believe, then anything it has achieved and areas the army has secured will come undone. Back to square one. If the Iraqi Army and Police were competant/trustworthy it might work, but they are not. You have failed. Call me names if you want but its still true.


"And Jon Gale... yeah LOL. Like do the typical, point to America and our "defeat". Keep hoping guy, obviously YOU don't have anything else to fall back on."

The LOL was for the accidential blaming of one man's "incontinence" and the mental image that conjured up.


And i've given my "fall back" - when US troops leave the Iraqi govt will collapse (due to the weakness of the Iraqi Army and Police), and the new Iraqi shia dictatorship will purge all its enemies including AQ. If the USA was wise it could try and manipulate things so the most acceptable (to us) dictator emerges, but you are so clumsy it's probably not worth it.

The main thing is that AQ will be defeated, but the longer the troops stay the longer that will take.

Until the West re-learns realpolitik (and conservatism) and stops basing its foreign policy on Neocon talk-radio slogans and liberal interventionism Al Qaeda will continue to prosper.

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