Withdrawal, Finally!

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.

7 Responses to Withdrawal, Finally!

  1. Axel says:

    Not very surprising. The Telegraph released a lot of articles about the planned British withdrawal during the last months, e.g. “Blair plans quick Iraq withdrawal” (24/11/06), “Troops ‘to leave Iraq by the end of 2007′” (28/11/06), “Blair seeks US deal for withdrawal of troops” (6/12/06), “3,000 British troops to pull out of Iraq by May” (12/01/07).

    And it’s not only the UK: “Following Britain’s lead, Denmark and Lithuania said they would withdraw most of their troops by August […] South Korea and Poland, with the largest contingents after the US and Britain, have said they will leave by the end of the year.”

  2. T. Bailey says:

    Juan Cole says that the British withdrawal is “a rout“. Is it a sign of British success, or failure? Is there any way to really know?

  3. muppt says:

    hey, get a load of Tony Blair’s man-boobs.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    It’s mostly a sign of the fact that even Blair can’t ignore public opinion right now.

  5. Ran Halprin says:

    What about withdrawal from Northern Ireland then?

  6. SLC says:

    Re Juan Cole

    Professor Cole is about as reliable a source of comment as Osama Bin Laden.

  7. Ruchira Paul says:

    I also heard that the Brits were asked to shift some of their troops north towards Baghdad to reinforce the US efforts there. They refused, not wishing to operate under US command.

    With western imperialistic hubris, we refuse to leave until Iraq is “settled.” Does it not strike anyone that our presence there is now a reason why Iraqis won’t settle? Let Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran play a role in different parts of Iraq. Kurdistan is already “settled” and is operating as an autonomous state. How much worse will it be? We are afraid that our enemies will gain foothold there. Heck, they “live” there!

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