Saturday, October 14, 2006
Blair Too Disingenuous by Half
For Blair to say he agrees with 'every word' General Dannatt has said and thatit is perfectly in line with government policy that 'Our strategy is to withdraw from Iraq when the job is done'- just won't wash. What the general said was in reality quite devastatingly different. First he said we should 'get our selves out sometime soon' later mentioning the time span of two years; and secondly that 'our presence exacerbates the security situation'. Neither statement is in accord with government policy and it is foolish, sub Campbell spin, to suggest otherwise.
Evidence of this was provided by US reactions-no doubt surprised by this act of lese majesty by an allied general to his government- which refused explicitly to accept the validity of the word 'exacerbate'. That the general is right has not been disputed by most of our other military men as it merely expresses what they have been saying in private for some time. Iraq has effectively imploded into a condition virtually of civil war(picture on right shows the Reading Room of Basra University). In the chaotic internecine anarchy of Basra, as one officer is quoted as saying 'We are just another tribe' Dannatt thinks the war in Afghanistan is winnable and that tying up so many of our combat troops in Iraq lessens our chances of success in this other theatre. Given historical precedent, this is being optimistic I'd say, but the general's point about overstretching very limited and vital military resources must be correct.
But I wonder if his intervention will have done any good? I can't see Blair being swayed to depart from the Bush-Rumsfeld line by this troublesome officer though he might have influenced in some slight way, the long term planning of our presence in this benighted country. In the short term, however, by questionng the validity of our presence, he has arguably damaged the morale of his own troops striving valiantly to hold a line which threatens to break at any time.
Of course the Allied presence has an exacerabing effect. They are a cause for disatisfaction and a target for a small minority of the population. I also believe that they are providing support and a check and balance on the hopelessy corrupt Iraqi police force. I think the two year view is not unreasonable. Most of the troops will be home by then, because the Iraqi Government will be able to control its own destiny. And this of course was the whole point of having troops there for three years.
I hope and trust that Blair will continue to back Bush and the Iraqi people against the terrorists. The decent and honourable thing to do. I am less hopeful he will sack this appalling man. I don't think the "anti-war lobby" - if there can be such a thing three years after a winning war - should get too excited.
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