Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Retreat From Basra. Is it a defeat?

Well, it does depend on how you look at it.

If the victory condition was clearing out Ba'athist forces and liberating Basra, then job done, but that was done in 2003.

If the victory condition was to leave the place in some sort of viable state then this is a abject failure. The Sun leads with the headline "The Lions of Basra" and rightly so, the failure was not of our troops making but our politicians, and indeed American ones. (Article not available online yet)

Our troops have been brave. Very brave. They have also fought well. The trouble is there has never been enough of them and they have not had the support they need.

We have never had the troops on the ground to do the job properly. We also don't have the troops on the ground in Afghanistan either, but that is a whole other disaster waiting to happen.

The Times report here highlights the mixed feelings of people on the ground. Some welcome the "end of the occupation" whilst others are in fear not knowing who will protect them from the militias.

Let us make no mistake here. We chose to go into both Afghanistan and Iraq. Practically we did have to go into Afghanistan, but we have resourced neither sufficiently to do the job.

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