Day By Day

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Perfidious Albion

The Brits are leaving Basra with their tails between their legs and the US is moving in to keep order. Read about it here.

Michael Portillo, writing in the Times of London traces the full extent of British failure in Iraq and contrasts it with the success the USA has enjoyed there.

The fundamental cause of the British failure was political.... Blair could not hold public opinion over the medium term and so he cut troop numbers fast and sought to avoid casualties. As a result, British forces lost control of Basra and left the population at the mercy of fundamentalist thugs and warring militias, in particular Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

The secondary cause of failure was a misplaced British disdain for America, shared by our politicians and senior military. In the early days in Iraq we bragged that our forces could deploy in berets and soft-sided vehicles while US forces roared through Baghdad in heavily armoured convoys. British leaders sneered at the Americans’ failure to win hearts and minds because of their lack of experience in counterinsurgency.

Pride has certainly come before a fall. British commanders underestimated both the enemy’s effectiveness and the Americans’ ability to adapt.
Not only the British political class, but that of the United States failed to understand that wars are dynamic situations where adaptability is everything. Fortunately we had a President who was far wiser than his critics.

If a fair-minded account of the Iraq war is written, credit should go to President Bush for rejecting two years ago the report by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that called for force reductions. He defied conventional wisdom and ordered a troop surge instead. It has been an extraordinary success and, unlike Britain, the Americans will not withdraw in defeat.
Of course a fair-minded account of the Iraq conflict is not likely to be forthcoming for some time. Far too many people in both Britain and America are today invested in a narrative that blames President Bush for all the world's ills real and imagined.

Read the whole thing here.