September 3, 2007

The British Pull Out of Basra and Talk of Blitzing Iran

What does the British pull out of Basra tell us?

I'd like to think that public opinion has finally turned the tide in Britain. A friend explained it's about economics, not public pressure. He's been following "The Economist" magazine, based in London. For those not following the on-going financial crisis, we're in the middle of a big one. It's been coming for a few years now. Britain saw it coming, and their withdrawal reflects their economic concerns. They cannot afford to go deeper into debt for things that don't have a return, like this quagmire called the Iraq War.

So, the British withdrawal from Basra tells us the Iraq war is a quagmire. If it were not, Britain would stick it out until they could leave as part of a made-for-TV withdrawal by the flag-waving, victorious members of the Coalition of the Willing. The British pull out tells us that ain't gonna happen for quite a while.

It also seems to be an unintentional experiment. The Associated Press reports on the British pulling back to the Basra airport, leaving their last post in downtown Basra, a former Saddam Hussein place:
The Basra palace had come under near daily rocket and mortar fire from Shiite militias until the British released about 30 gunmen a few months ago and spread the word that they would soon leave.

Since then it has been relatively quite at the Palace. Is this the calm before a storm of an inter-Shia power struggle, or is it evidence that if the occupiers leave, Iraq might be able to find stability on its own? We all know the answer to that (it's none of our business), but this is still a real-world experiment on withdrawal that's worth watching (Bush's laboratory). The prediction of the think-tank Security & Defense Agenda is ugly (Bush's fault).

Perhaps a hint:

People on the streets of Basra cheered the departure of the British.

"We are pleased that the Iraqi army are now taking over the situation. We as an Iraqi people reject occupation. We reject colonialism. We want our freedom," resident Rudha Muter told AP Television News.

But there is another thing to watch in Basra:

U.S. officials have been concerned about the prospect of British troops handing over control of a city where armed militias hold sway. Basra controls a key land supply line from Kuwait to Baghdad and farther north, and is also near important oil fields.

My sense is the Democrats are not ready to call for a pullout from Iraq. They're concerned about being blamed for leaving a power vacuum that would naturally be filled by Iran (this isn't a criticism of Iran.. they can't leave a power vacuum on their boarder).

Unfortunately, the more timely question we need to be asking is whether or not the Democrats will go along with a Pentagon plan for a "Three-Day Blitz" on Iran. So, when you write Congress asking them to withdraw from Iraq, don't forget to also say "no" to bombing Iran.


Associated Press, Britain pulls out of downtown Basra base, DAVID RISING, September 2, 2007.

The Sunday Times, Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran, Sarah Baxter, September 2, 2007.

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