Tim Hames, in today's Times, calls the US surge of troops into Iraq as "the most important story in the world this year":
"By any measure, the US-led surge has been little short of a triumph. The number of American military fatalities is reduced sharply, as is the carnage of Iraqi civilians, Baghdad as a city is functioning again, oil output is above where it stood in March 2003 but at a far stronger price per barrel and, the acid test, many of those who fled to Syria and Jordan are today returning home."
National Review has annointed General Petraeus, author of the surge, as its man of the year. BritainAndAmerica cannot argue with that. Even Democrat John Murtha, a fierce opponent of the Iraq war, stated that “the surge is working.”
The US' increasing (although not yet certain) success stands alongside the UK's failure in southern Iraq. Colonel Tim Collins, who famously stirred his troops for battle in 2003, told BBC Radio 4 this morning that the USA may have to intervene against the "chaos" in the south once British troops have completed their retreat:
“I think that the removal of Saddam Hussein was a good thing. I think the chaos in Basra is a temporary thing, because I am certain that the US - which is fast getting control of the rest of the country - will sort it out."
The "chaos" in the south has been well-documented in the last 24 hours.
This is what The Guardian reports this morning:
"As British forces finally handed over security in Basra province, marking the end of 4½ years of control in southern Iraq, Major General Jalil Khalaf, the new police commander, said the occupation had left him with a situation close to mayhem. "They left me militia, they left me gangsters, and they left me all the troubles in the world," he said in an interview for Guardian Films and ITV."
In yesterday's Sunday Times Marie Colvin documented appalling stories of violence and death being perpetrated - particularly against women - by warring Islamic militias in Basra. Here is an extract from her report:
"The level of lawlessness is striking even during a short visit to Basra. On my first day,a male relative of the family I was staying with was kidnapped driving into Basra. A series of desperate calls began to try to find him. It has become a well-established ritual. The next day, waiting in the anteroom of Major-General Farid Mohan, commander of the army in Basra, I asked the man next to me if he was okay. He had two black eyes and lumps on his bald head. It turned out he was the leader of the first ministry of finance delegation to visit Basra in five months. He had been kidnapped and tortured. Mohan had negotiated his release hours earlier.
Iyad Ahmed sat slumped forward in the grey dishdasha (robe) and leather sandals that he had on when he was kidnapped from his room at the Qusr Al-Sultan, the best hotel in Basra. He had arrived 20 days earlier to investigate the ports and borders. “When I was kidnapped, I was investigating the theft of 653 new cars stolen from the international free zone in the middle of the afternoon. The thieves killed the guard at the gate as they drove the cars out.” Following the trail, the ministry team found that 90 of the cars had been used in assassinations, and 35 in suicide bomb attacks.""
The rebuilding of Britain's armed forces will be a top priority for Britain's next Government. As BritainAndAmerica argued at the time of the British sailors' captivity in Iran, the whole direction of British politics and culture has left Britain a much more vulnerable nation than at any time since the Falklands War.