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I find the title of this post strange... the main clause does not support the dependent clause.

Tony Makara

I can see only one future for Iraq. The country needs to be broken into autonomous regions operating within an Iraqi federation. This will involve the large-scale relocation of peoples. A monumental task but certainly less painful than the current situation. I also envisage a peace-keeping role for UN troops. If British forces leave as seems inevitable it would provide the UN with an opportunity to fill the void.


I suspect both Mike Jackson and Genl Keane are right.
The British have from the very beginning done deals with some very unsavoury characters in southern Iraq to preserve a semblance of control.Our return of three provinces to nominally Iraqi gov't control has in reality simply handed them to Shia militia as the MOD well knows but will never admit. Our troops are taking casualties for no military gain whatsoever and should be withdrawn now.
The American troops have had successes against Al-queda but in order to appease the Iraqi gov't have not interfered too much with the Shia militias. The real test will come if and when they decide to take on the Shia as they have with Al-queda.

Alan S

You're right atheling although I think the editor is trying to say that while Britain has given up in Iraq the American public and certainly the President have not given up hope.


Atheling, the post title is short for "Britain looks back at early failures to explain why Iraq is lost, but most Americans refuse to believe that the cause is lost."

Malcolm, if the US has not interfered with the Shia militias, what is your explanation for Muqtada Al-Sadr frequent retreat to Iran, culminating in his recent disbanding his Mahdi Army?


The Brit softly softly approach was always a political more than a military position. They did the same thing in Afghanistan and when the force again became US led the military had to go in and take back what the UK let the Taliban have.

I read somewhere that a British commander in Afghanistan does not want US special forcet operating in his area because they cause to many problems.

We shouldn't attack Musharaf for the deals he made with the ratbags because he was just following in the Brits footsteps.

I should say that this is not a criticism of the soldiers on the ground. It is a criticism of the shortsightedness of senior British military and their politic minders.

Simon Newman

"the White House senses some improvements"

Oh, well, that's all right then.

Seriously, what *are* the war aims, anyway? What is the achievable goal that is 'not lost'? A secular liberal peaceful democratic Iraq friendly to Israel? Cheap secure oil?

Simon Newman

"Malcolm, if the US has not interfered with the Shia militias, what is your explanation for Muqtada Al-Sadr frequent retreat to Iran..."

I doubt that Sadr has in truth been retreating to Iran, since his (non-disbanded) Mahdi Army is in conflict with the Iranian puppets of the Badr Brigades.

Simon Newman

Tony Makara:
"I can see only one future for Iraq. The country needs to be broken into autonomous regions operating within an Iraqi federation. This will involve the large-scale relocation of peoples"

Why would there need to be large scale relocation of peoples? Most of Iraq is heavily segregated; parts of Baghdad used to be more ethnically mixed but Sunni minorities have already largely been ethnically cleansed. I'd think coterminous Arab-Sunni, Shia (the majority) and Sunni-Kurd areas could be created without any need for major population displacement. Some minorities might continue to flee, but that has already been going on for years.


"Seriously, what *are* the war aims, anyway?" Well coming from one who had no idea al-Qaeda was even in Iraq that angle is no surprise. Since you can't figure it out, in a nutshell (no pun intended) its creating a secure enough environment so the the Iraqis can maintain their own stability through elected governance and security forces. The real question Simon is what is your aim? This is you know that side of the equation that, doesn't seem to be made very clear?

"Why would there need to be large scale relocation of peoples?" Elaborate more? Come on lets see your sources of info AND stategy from hereon. The simplistic know-it-all answers with some Brits is a joke. Some lefty Americans too for that matter.

For the rest of the posters here who are interested in facts to weigh their perspective, here's a recent interview with the Australian. This is why with our current commander and strategy more Americans have hope now.

"David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said the build-up of American forces in Baghdad since late January had produced positive outcomes. These included the killing or capture of al-Qa'ida fighters, causing the terrorist group to lose influence with local Sunnis.

"The strategic gains against insurgents would lead to a changed and possibly longer-term role for Australian troops, shifting from security operations to a focus on training Iraqi soldiers and police.

"General Petraeus told The Australian during a face-to-face interview at his Baghdad headquarters there had been a 75 per cent reduction in religious and ethnic killings since last year, a doubling in the seizure of insurgents' weapons caches between January and August, a rise in the number of al-Qa'ida "kills and captures" and a fall in the number of coalition deaths from roadside bombings."


Now, with a 75% reduction in religious and ethnic killings and continuous integration of Iraq military and police forces... if momentum continues... I wonder how long those who've never shown any desire for a positive outcome but instead relish in pessimism, Bush's failure and American humiliation, will be able to hope out loud... excuse me, 'prove' their point for disaster.

Even our cut and run Democrats who have so hoped for failure pinning it all on the American public's rejection of the war and Republican party, are being pressured to rethink their doom and gloom.


I have doubts about Mike Jackson's leadership. Crucially, he lacks any real fighting experience. I also don't think he ensured our boys were as fully equipped as they could have been in such hostile environments. Its not without reason Americans nicknamed Brit soldiers as "The Borrowers".

Guns melting in 50C heat leaving troops unable to defend themselves. Did American troops share this problem? There is anecdotal evidence describing how lives are put at risk due to insufficient/inferior equipment, but it gets too depressing...

I think he worried about his place in history. How better to deflect criticism than deflect it onto others.


The more I think of this the angrier I get. US/UK troops are waging desperately difficult campaigns and what does he do? Undermine it and create further division. I can think of but one motive for his tirade: self-interest.

The lack of post-conflict planning was startling for sure, but should have got his own house in order before critcising others.

Simon Newman

Steevo on war aim:
"creating a secure enough environment so the the Iraqis can maintain their own stability through elected governance and security forces"

The idea is that if we left, the elected Shi'ite-dominated government would be overthrown by the Shi'ite militias, whose representatives are part of that government? Is that right? I really am not clear on this. FWIW I don't get the impression that many Iraqis (or Arab Muslims in general) have much interest in or support for liberal democracy. People will vote for their own tribal, ethnic or religious interests but that doesn't mean they will support the system if it doesn't give the results they want - coming from Northern Ireland I have direct experience of this.


Sadr has not disbanded the Mahdi army.


The article is correct though. I and most rightleaning Americans view this war as winnable. We're more worried about the Democrats than the insurgents.


Simon, I’m gonna be blunt but not that I want to, I just find I don’t have any other choice if I wanna be real with myself. I find your questions very simplistic, erroneous and unfairly opinionated. I’ll give -A- response whether its what you want, need… whatever or not, but first you have to prove to me you’re even genuine. You’ve had NO problem criticizing in apparent total self-confidence, justified… yet not knowing who we were even fighting. It didn’t matter the absolute proof in the examples I gave of the terrorist leader’s own letters passed back and forth concerning their role in Iraq, not to mention the testimony from our soldiers and Iraqi citizens. You didn’t wanna know, you didn’t wanna believe. It was only until the BBC of all people decided to give Petraeus consideration… then, and only then you changed: shall I say, to the same conclusion but with new angles.

You’ve been back and forth in some threads in your argumentation concerning America’s role in this world to such extreme I don’t believe you have the credibility to be taken serious. When I do respond to your posts its not to convince you, I have no illusions. Its only in the hope others who may be unsure may not be diluted and misled.

I have seen no reason to believe you hope for good. So, never mind the Euro and Left-wing pathological: typical anti-war criticism parroting the same ole leading to no answer, meaning, that is the answer. You’re the arm chair quarterback like so many others opposed to our efforts, pointing out how its all wrong. Damn the waywood Americans, you’re definitely above it. Since the only alternative seriously made public is cut and run or “redeploy” of which I have not read or heard one officer in the field agree with, any form, thereof argued from the halls of Washington…what say you? You have a solution?… and you know how to implement it? With all the facts to show us, prove your case. Prove to me, prove to everyone here you know BETTER than Petraeus and his huge chain of commanders who are not in disagreement and who most certainly would have said so with abundant opportunitie.


“Malcolm, if the US has not interfered with the Shia militias, what is your explanation for Muqtada Al-Sadr frequent retreat to Iran, culminating in his recent disbanding his Mahdi Army?”

JF it doesn’t matter. Malcolm is your prototypical anti-war/American Brit. He’ll go after the next angle: the next war challenge he can hope to look unwinable in his determination to discredit. We can take this underhanded approach back to the beginning. We were gonna lose 10s of thousands and 100s of thousands of Iraqis. We were a failure because we didn’t get Saddam. The Iraqis will never accept our presence. We would leave before the Iraqis could elect a government. Civil war will be inevitable. You might as well be arguing with the Devil.

People on the Left don’t care to think, they’re incapable of it as they’d have to question themselves. So you ask your question and what does he say: “Sadr has not disbanded the Mahdi army.” Oh, OK that’s it. Malcolm just set the record straight. No further need to question.

Is that an answer to your question? Does it even matter as long as it… looks OK to those who don’t know.

I hope I’m not being presumptuous JF but I’d like to give an answer, not to Malcolm who doesn’t hear, see, or care about, well humanity as that’s what we’re talking about. But to those who don’t know if we have done anything with respect to Sadr and his militia. I will mention that Iran is also involved and indeed they are a threat. Multinational Forces Iraq describe as the "rogue" Mahdi Army those that Sadr lost operational control and Iran's Qods Force stepped in and took over. These are essentially Iraqi Hezbollah. We even have Shia militia battling Shia militia. But right now lets just keep it focused on Sadr and his men.

I’ll just post from those summarizing what’s been happening on the ground.

>Just one day after major clashes between Iraqi security forces and the Mahdi Army during a Shia religious celebration in Najaf, Muqtada al Sadr has ordered the Mahdi Army to halt all attacks in Iraq, including attacks against Coalition forces. The fighting in Najaf resulted in 52 killed and over 300 wounded, according to reports, and have harmed Sadr politically while placing him in the crosshairs of US and Iraqi forces.

>Sadr's aides were out in force, calling for the Mahdi Army to lay down its arms. "We declare the freezing of the Mahdi Army without exception in order to rehabilitate it in a way that will safeguard its ideological image within a maximum period of six months starting from the day this statement is issued," said Sheik Hazim al-Araji, an aide of Sadr, while reading a statement from Sadr on Iraqi state television. The statement was backed up by Sadr's spokesman. "It also includes suspending the taking up of arms against occupiers as well as others," said Ahmed al-Shaibani, Sadr's spokesman.

>Muqtada al Sadr's backdown from attacks exposes problems with his confrontational approach to both the Iraqi government and Coalition forces, as well as a weakening of his political position inside Iraq. Since Sadr fled to Iran in January, he has quickly lost operational control over elements of his Mahdi Army, which in reality is an amalgamation of criminal and ideological elements.

>The US has been working to divide the Mahdi Army for well over a year, and have conducted numerous operations against the extremist elements of Muqtada al Sadr's militia -- the rogue Mahdi Army, criminal elements, and elements of the loyalists. These elements have been targeted at every opportunity by US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad, Diwaniyah, Samawa, Karbala, Basra, and throughout the South.

It doesn’t appear to me Malcolm’s one-liner makes much sense.

Simon says...

"I doubt that Sadr has in truth been retreating to Iran, since his (non-disbanded) Mahdi Army is in conflict with the Iranian puppets of the Badr Brigades." This is almost as good as your refusal to believe al-Qaeda was in Iraq.

In 05 Jaysh al-Mahdi carried out revenge killings on Badr Forces and Sadr stepped in to prevent them from continuing. In Sept. 05 there were 2 days of clashes when Sadr's men tried to open an office and the Badrs didn't want them in their local. Throughout most of 06 Badr and Mahdi forces have been accused of collaborating to foment sectarian violence. Most of the time Sadr's militia have been working with the Badr Brigades. There's always been power struggles. As far as Iran is concerned Sadr organized unto himself the most potent ability to sow sectarian strife and destabilize Iraq. That's the bottom line for Iran in all of this - loyalties for any contrary reason be damned.


Call me what you like Steevo. I'm neither anti American or left wing nor do I care in the slightest what you think of me. The fact remains that Sadr has not disbanded his army. I wish he had.


Angle your implications anyway you think you can pass. You have nothing. The fact remains there is no problem seeing right through you.


Really Steevo? Then you're obviously a lot brighter than your amazingly unintelliglble posts indicate.Still, if it makes you happy....


You’re also a dummy. Facts and reality go right through you.

This discussion was about the US efforts against the Mahdi militia. Your simplistic response implies 2 things: Sadr has been insignificant and we haven’t had significant success, already.

To answer your paltry response directly, you have no idea to what extent his forces have stopped. And you have shown no intent to give credit where credit is due.



"Our troops are taking casualties for no military gain whatsoever and should be withdrawn now."

The "military gain" bit ended ages ago with the ousting of Saddam. The losses sustained then were as much to do with Mike Jackson's failure to ensure British troops were adequately equipped. Many squaddie blogs about him are not exactly complimentary.

It is now a case of eliminating terrorists in the neighbourhoods, which under the new command of Petraeus appears to have been successful, and which the BBC inexplicably has a problem with reporting.

In the last 10 weeks various armed insurgents have suffered their heaviest losses since the start of the conflict four years ago. Again, not a whisper from the BBC about this, which simply maintains the fiction that the US has failed in Iraq and that the UN should have an increased role (cue sound of large audience laughing).


My post implies Sadr, has been insignificant,er where? It seems you have an inability to read as well as write.
More British troops have been killed by Sadr's army than by anyone else in Iraq. I don't underestimate his ability as well as his friends in Iran to cause the allies a hell of a lot of trouble.If and when the allies or the USA on its own takes on and defeats Sadr then perhaps a stable Iraq may occur. If they don't it won't.
Look Steevo, unlike JF, I don't think you are an inherently dishonest person, just thick.Let's leave it there shall we?


Malcolm, I suppose we're simply looking at the issue from two different standpoints. I guess you are expecting a clear, "I surrender" declaration from Al Sadr, but I am not. I believe his declaration of a freeze in activity for 6 months or longer is a tacit admission of defeat. But in the end, the result is the same, is it not? The US can at least temporarily remove one more enemy from its list. Americans tend to view such news as good, while enemies of America tend to view such news as bad.

I find it bizarre that Jackson chooses this moment to criticize the US strategy, when things haven't looked this good for at least a year. Either this is a cynical ploy on his part to get press, or he truly hopes this effort will fail. Just because he was a chief of staff doesn't mean he's infallible.

Tim Montgomerie

Oh dear. Can we avoid the personalisation of debate please and keep things reasonably civilised?

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