Tony Blair has finally gotten off his high horse and announced a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Initially Britain will withdraw 1,600 troops out of 7,100 currently stationed, ostensibly on the grounds that the British area of control, Basra and the surrounding area, is remarkably stable.
Bush is of course calling it a vindication of his policies. That’s not surprising; for Bush, every event in the world is a vindication of every single policy of his.
Earlier, the White House called the British announcement a sign of success.
“We’re pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that [British forces] are able to transition more control to the Iraqis,” said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe in a statement.
Even if Blair’s excuse is correct and the conditions in Basra are good, it doesn’t say good things about the American mission in Iraq. In that case, all the withdrawal shows is that the British government was competent enough to stabilize Iraq while the American one wasn’t. In the unlikely case it’s not just a political capitulation to majority opinion in Britain, it means that as usual, Blair is a better neoconservative than Bush: more domestically progressive, smarter, more competent, and more realistic.