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Home > Politics

Iraq: Invade In Haste, Repent At Leisure

27 October 2006

We've all done things we regret. Fortunately for most of us they tend to be of the 'I *knew* I shouldn't have taken a can of Stella into the job interview' variety, not 'Shit, I really shouldn't have invaded that country.'

But the US seems to be moving toward a long-overdue realisation that the occupation of Iraq might have been a mistake. This week a spokesman for George Bush made the creepily ambiguous statement 'This is not "stay the course" but constant motion.' Meanwhile General George Casey, the US commander in Iraq, said that in 12-18 months the Iraqi security forces would emerge as 'the dominant force in Iraq'.

Can you see what it is yet? Yep, it's an exit strategy, or at least the ground being prepared for one.

It's hard to imagine that the US military commander in Iraq makes such pronouncements without the say-so of his political masters, so it seems that the Bush administration is finally getting ready to pull American troops out of Iraq. If nothing else, this is good news for US grunts and Our Lads in Basra, but it's unlikely that many ordinary Iraqis are relishing the prospect of all-out civil war and a scramble to power between Baathists and Islamic fundamentalists, amongst others.

The reasons for these tentative hints at withdrawal are pretty obvious. This month 90 US troops were killed in Iraq and a further 400 or so were injured, according to The Independent. A recent poll suggests that the American public is waking up to this in a big way: two thirds believe the Iraq invasion to have been a mistake.

Of course, the idea that the Iraqi security forces will be able to maintain order in 18 months is total bollocks. Iraq is hopelessly divided, with different government ministries divvied up into the control of different factions, most of whom have their own militia. It's like the Department of Health being controlled by the IRA, while the Home Office is controlled by the UVF. In addition, only one battalion of Iraqi troops was recently deemed to be capable of operating independently of US help. Even this turned out not to be true: their status was downgraded and they're currently backed up by US forces. Things were oppressive under Saddam, things are chaotic now, and we can only speculate what things will be like in 18 months.

To screw up on this monumental scale is not something we'd like to have on our consciences. Happily, the Bush administration seem not to actually have consciences, which makes things a lot easier.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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