Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Will Tony Blair Lead Us Out of Iraq-Nam?

Is the British Prime Minister morphing from
Bush's poodle into 'International' Velvet, the rescue dog?

Blair is expected to clarify details of the U.K.'s progressive withdrawal from Iraquagmire today, after his announcement in the House of Commons.

The BBC reports that Blair says hundreds of troops will return from Basra in the next few weeks. Out of the 7,200 British troops still serving in Iraq, It is expected Blair will say 1,500 troops are expected to return home in months, with 3,000 withdrawn by Christmas. Blair said earlier this week,
The problems remain formidable. What all of this means is not that Basra is how we want it to be but the next chapter in Basra's history can be written by the Iraqis.
If true, this would mark a significant change from comments made just last month, when he called plans for withdrawing troops by October "irresponsible." Speaking in the House of Commons on Jan. 24, Blair said such a plan
would send the most disastrous signal to the people that we are fighting in Iraq. It's a policy that, whatever its superficial attractions may be, is actually deeply irresponsible.
What's changed? A recent poll published in The Guardian suggests the Labour Party is losing its support. When voters were asked who they would vote for, 42 per cent said Conservative, as opposed to 29 per cent for Labour under the leadership of Blair's likely successor, Gordon Brown.

Our own Bush administration is either mired in the river de-Nile or in the land of the great pretenders. National Security Council spokesperson Gordon Johndroe told the AP that Bush views any British withdrawal as a sign troops have promoted security in the region.
The president is grateful for the support of the British Forces in the past and into the future.

While the United Kingdom is maintaining a robust force in southern Iraq, we're pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transition more control to the Iraqis.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, whose party opposed the war in Iraq, has it right:
The unpalatable truth, Mr Speaker, is this, that we will leave behind a country on the brink on civil war, where reconstruction has stalled, where corruption is endemic and a region that is a lot less stable than it was in 2003.

This is a long way short of the beacon of democracy for the Middle East which was promised some four years ago.
The real story here is that this is a slower withdrawal than many in the British army had hoped for. Head of the British Army, Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt was speaking for the army last October when he said:
I think history will show that the planning for what happened after the initial successful war-fighting phase was poor, probably based more on optimism than sound planning.

History will show that a vacuum was created and into the vacuum malign elements moved. The hope that we might have been able to get out of Iraq in 12, 18, 24 months after the initial start in 2003 has proved fallacious. Now hostile elements have got a hold it has made our life much more difficult in Baghdad and in Basra.

. . . . The original intention was that we put in place a liberal democracy that was an exemplar for the region, was pro-West and might have a beneficial effect on the balance within the Middle East.

That was the hope. Whether that was a sensible or naïve hope, history will judge. I don't think we are going to do that. I think we should aim for a lower ambition. . . . get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems. We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear. . . As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited into a country, but we weren't invited, certainly by those in Iraq at the time. Let's face it, the military campaign we fought in 2003 effectively kicked the door in.

. . . That is a fact. I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing around the world are caused by our presence in Iraq, but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them. . . .

In the Army we place a lot of store by the values we espouse. What I would hate is for the Army to be maintaining a set of values that were not reflected in our society at large — courage, loyalty, integrity, respect for others; these are critical things.
The ranks of the coalition of the unwilling are increasing. Denmark will also be withdrawing its troops from Iraq by August, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced. The troops, numbering about 460, will be replaced by a unit of nine soldiers manning four observational helicopters.

26 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Emily said...

Many Brits are disappointed that their draw-down is not as rapid as they had expected and hoped; the difference is taken as a sign of the pressure Bush has put on Blair.

2/21/2007 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Guthrum said...

One third are going in the next two months, the Ministry of Defence have confirmed that those remaining will be only there for training the Iraqi armed forces. Our 'Midterms' are at the beginning of May, Blair will be in power then for ten years. Labour will get a drubbing, I suspect he will go then. The MOD are already intimating another third will go by the summer. About time.

2/21/2007 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER said...

Blair is trying to buy time. He's a goner.

His blairing moronic explanations on why we should be there at all show you that the man has lost his marbles.

2/21/2007 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Matt Janovic said...

Nope. It won't affect our wrongheaded Preznent. Not one-iota. Why? Basra can be described as reasonably stable enough to declare victory and leave. Baghdad, all the other American-occupied zones, forget it. We're there until events remove us, and with those gold-tipped RPGs, that should be pretty soon. I'm afraid we could see another Stalingrad here. President Bush has retreated into irrationality because it's in his interest to drag-this-out, like a hood in a gas station siege.

2/21/2007 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

Two other possibilities beside Stalingrad are Dien Bien Phu, and my favorite Little Big Horn.

2/21/2007 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Messenger said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/21/2007 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Messenger said...

Beach Bum, by turning Iraq into a stepping-off staging area for an attack on Iran, Bush is beginning to make the Strait of Hormuz to look an awful lot like the Yalu River. That may be why the Brits want out now: they have picked up on a new (pre-emptive) Downing Street memo to the the effect that Bush's intelligence is being fixed up (again!) to fix up another preventive war and they don't want to be an innocent (this time!) bystander caught between those Iranians hordes and us Americans.

2/21/2007 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Recidivist said...

Yeah, otherwise, Bush's poodle would be Semper Fidelis & be sending his surplus troops to help out General Petraeus in da big surge of Dien Bien Phu.

2/21/2007 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Non-Partisàn said...

With our English friends ending,
Why do we get stuck holding the BAGhdad,
Surging and splurging, sending and spending?

(needs work)

2/21/2007 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger Malfrat said...

Blair didn't purge professionals from the U.K.'s foreign service like Bush did our State Dept. Over there they still have professional statesmen who realize the implications of the Queen's forces being over-taxed, under-supplied and over-extended. Any ably-led country with worldwide responsibilities and commitments will see that it can ill-afford being mired down in an endlessly and hopeless situation and pull out.

2/21/2007 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Visiting Guthrum's site a minute ago, it came to me that the Anglo-American alliance is of sound health. Our peoples are united in their disgust of their leaders as well as in their bewilderment as to what they have done or not done to have so self-inflicted themselves with the like of Bush, Blair & Cheney (axis of evil).

2/21/2007 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER said...


Sorry, failed to watch John Humphry's interview with bumbling Blair but did see highlights of it in separate BBC news reports.

Excerpts I watched showed Blair hell bent on portraying that he's lost touch with reality - as I said earlier on, the man's lost his marbles.

Tell you what, most people I know here (British delegates to NATO included) think that Blair's in total denial.

Anyway, if Mick Smith is right, the man is going, gone sometime mid-year this year.

And if he (Blair) is lucky, he might just escape facing a war tribunal and get away with a token slap on the wrist, i.e., just be known as the lousiest PM we ever had, the PM who delivered Britain to America (as US 51st state).

2/22/2007 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...


Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, reinforces your point:

"If the Brits really do have the ability to redeploy forces, we obviously need them in Baghdad and environs. The decision reflects British domestic politics, which prevent Blair from even considering sending some of those freed-up forces toward Baghdad."

2/22/2007 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger LittleBill said...

I hope Bush, his administration, and his followers have all noticed that Britain's Prince Harry is on his way, by his own choice, to serve with the British forces in Iraq.

2/22/2007 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger LittleBill said...

Come to think of it, that will probably be taken by Bush, his administration, and his followers as a sign of Prince Harry's support of Bush's illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq rather than as the taking of responsibility by a man from a background of great privilege.

2/22/2007 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger MadMike said...

Breaking up is so very hard to do.....

2/22/2007 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Non-Partisàn said...

Bush is now the Alone Ranger.

2/22/2007 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...


2/22/2007 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

Who ya gonna believe? Dick Cheney who says things are going swimmingly in Basra? Or Juan Cole, who says,

"In reality, southern Iraq is a quagmire that has defeated all British efforts to impose order, and Blair was pressed by his military commanders to get out altogether -- and quickly. The departure has only been slowed, for the moment, by the pleas of Bush administration officials like Cheney. And far from the disingenuously upbeat prognosis offered by the vice president, the British withdrawal could spell severe trouble for both the Iraqi government and for U.S. troops in that country."

2/23/2007 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER said...

Right you are there, littlebill re George Bush might just use Prince Harry's joining the war expedition as some kind of support for the illegal war.

But folks this side of the Atlantic will be more circumspect - double edge sword for Blair too. Harry's going to Iraq will require a whole division to protect him which is kinda silly; Blair cannot and will not take chances that dear, young, eager to fight Harry falls victim to a ricochet. Heh.

Putting a division to protect Harry just won't sit well with the fighting troops either.

Big headache for Blair.

2/23/2007 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER said...

Blair, I reckon will do everything for Harry not to go until he's left 10 Downing st and let Gordon Brown handle the problem.

Blair might be a frigging coward of a liar but he ain't a fool.

Doesn't matter, he's a goner and will go down in history as the lousiest SOB of a PM we ever had.

2/23/2007 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

So, Prince Harry is the real 'rescue dog', and Tony's still a brain-dead lap dog?

2/23/2007 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger LTE said...

Iraq is a sectarian-based civil war between well-armed combatants who are supported by foreign governments on both sides. Given the continued escalation of Iraqi deaths - depending on your source - this figure could be in the hundreds of thousands: is this our reason for staying, to get an accurate body count?

2/24/2007 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger M.D. said...

Blair was grilled on the BBC the other day - accused of being on a a "crusade" to save the world - and did a terrible job of responding to the more pointed questions. I don't think he cares anymore. He just babble on as if he is on autopilot.


2/25/2007 01:44:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Yeah, M.D., I caught that interview, I think. I'd have to listen to it again to make sure, but it was too painful the first time through!

2/25/2007 06:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Kurt said...

So Britain and Denmark are pulling their troops out of Iraq. I wonder what Washington will do now? When politicos were unhappy with France's view of Iraq, they renamed French fries "freedom fries" in a fit of childish sullenness. What's going to happen to English breakfast tea and the morning Danish?

3/04/2007 08:10:00 AM  

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