Boris Johnson: I remember the quiet day we lost the war . .

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by eveyoz, Nov 2, 2006.

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  1. I remember the quiet day we lost the war in Iraq

    By Boris Johnson
    Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 02/11/2006

    It was the moment I should have twigged. It was the moment I should have realised that I had voted for the biggest British military fiasco since the Second World War. I was wandering around Baghdad, about 10 days after Iraq had been "liberated", and it seemed to me that the place was not entirely without hope.

    OK, so the gunfire popped round every corner like popcorn on a stove, and civil society had broken down so badly that the looters were taking the very copper from the electricity cables in the streets. But I was able to stroll without a flak jacket and eat shoarma and chips in the restaurants.

    With no protection except for Isaac, my interpreter, I went to the Iraqi foreign ministry, and found the place deserted. The windows were broken, and every piece of computer equipment had been looted. As I was staring at the fire-blackened walls a Humvee came through the gates. A pair of large GIs got out and asked me my business. I explained that I was representing the people of South Oxfordshire and Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph.

    advertisementThat didn't cut much ice. Then I noticed a figure begin to unpack his giraffe-like limbs from the shady interior of the Humvee. He was one of those quiet Americans that you sometimes meet in odd places.

    Story continues . . . . .
  2. Its a good piece especially the fact that Saddam wargamed where we are now.
  3. Given the socking he got when he tried to face us down the first time with traditional means, he would have to have been pretty daft not to try and think of something a bit different. There are lots of things he lacks, but low cunning is not one of them. Whether he thought he could ever regain power, I don't know, but he could certainly f**k us up big time, if only for the purposes of revenge.
  4. It's churlish to surmise Saddam master-planned his 'fallback' option. But, his decision to feint defence is certainly plausible, and then return to his roots as guerilla fighter stack up too.

    Interesting reaction from DT reader:

  5. Don't necessarily disagree with the estimation of the masterplan, but I rather doubt the suggested solution is correct. 'Overwhelming force' did not win the day in the Boer war, and I would argue that overwhelming force is exactly what the US tried in the Vietnam. It is also the sole resort of Israel, with predictable results. In fact, most examples of the use of 'overwhelming force' in such circumstances suggest it fails. Overwhelming efforts, possibly, but force alone will not create a democracy in Iraq in the style we wish.

    I agree that it is rather unlikely that Saddam had a full operational plan for post-conflict, but it is not unrealistic to suggest that he had a broad intention to ensure chaos ensued, rather than handing the country to the US on a plate with a 'fair cop, guv' and a rueful shrug.
  6. Kenya took 4 years of being on the back foot then 7 years to win drawing on the lessons learned in the previous 4.

    I doubt Uncle Sam is game for 11+ years of Iraq.

    And I would be amazed if they could get away with what we had to do in the Boer War unless they are prepared to toughen up.

    Neutron Weapons; lets just shelve Humanism for a few years and do some drastic population reduction to save the planet.
  7. We were in Egypt 70 years which always strikes me as the strongest parallel. But, Britain was never squeamish about its Empire ambitions. We did what it said on the tin.

    America plays games with its world intentions. Their undefined role as hegemonic empire means they have an integrity crises. We want our worldview to invade your consciousness but don't wish to stick around for the consequences.

    A World Superpower who wants to tinker with regimes behind the scenes but cannot find any of its ivy-leaguers with any ambitions to embed themselves in other cultures as careers, or as someone said, have 'diarroeha as a way of life', in the same was as oxbridge grads died in far flung corners that will forever be called Grimsby or Middle Wallop. The highcaste of America aspire to the boardroom and not the godforsaken barren wastelands, unlike " desert loving English".

    Until it can show genuine commitment to the world it will fail to leave any form of lasting legacy. But then, do we want an isolationist US? Cake and eat me thinks...
  8. BoomShackerLacker I mainly agree though rather than Egypt I would say the North West Frontier is the best parallel (oh dear).

    Egypt has always had a very strong sense of National idenity with a well defined place in world History, allowing cohesive central Government, while Iraqis are of tribal inclination and have usually been somebody elses slaves or just an ungovernable mess.
  9. My middle-East history is very shaky, but didn't the Iraqis (Mesopototamians?) give the British Army a run for their money in the early 20thC?
  10. After the break up of the Ottoman Empire (1918-onwards) the British found themselves administering the villayets of Baghdad and Mosul (Iraq). They faced a pretty brutal (mainly Shi'ite) tribal uprising which was suppressed at much cost to the Iraqis. The British came up with a pretty nifty solution they absorbed the Ottoman-Iraq Sunni middle classes and made them the ruling class, they also installed Fesial of Hijaz as the King of the Place. The ruling family could have survived if they had not been so pro-British and had listened to their populace.

    A very learned article from Boris his Great Grand Pa Ali Kemal would have been proud.

    Also my suggestion for best historical comparison for the present catastrophe would be British administered Iraq 1918-22? But back then those in charge actually had brains and faced a less developed populace.
  11. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Follow the comments on Boris's " learned oeuvre " ?

    Lee Shaver
  12. The same Boris Johnson who made such interesting observations about Liverpudlians?
    I think he's a great bloke and this is an excellent article. Good that he says stuff that many think; bad that he undoubtedly holds back on many things that would present a plausible opposition to the Government (unlike the current goons).
  13. The Egypt link was more political than military.

    Britain acquired Egypt at the top of its Empire game but stated that the Egyptians would still be in charge.
    The British promised not to behave as Imperialists, 'Egypt for the Egyptians'.
    Suez was the 'oil'.
    Gladstone's investments in Egypt/Cotton trade was the Bush/Halliburton of its day.
    Internal opposition to the invasion.
    Initial invasion greeted with public delight at swift victory with minimal casualties.
    Belief in restructuring "We need not always enquire too closely what these people... themselves think" " to plant solidly western and beneficent institutions in the soil of a Mohamedan community?" (Gladstone)
    Began promising to leave immediately. 66 promises in total.
    Declared Egypt independent in 1922.
    80,000 troops still there in 1954.
    Left in '56, 74 years after occupation.
    Then tried to return!
    Outcome: lots of achievements infrastructurewise "English heads and Egyptian hands" but not anywhere near what might have been expected

    Meaning: You can hang on in Iraq for decades whilst promising to leave on a monumental hypocritical scale and get away with it.
    Investment by the US will bring modest infrastructure results (Iraq owes $120 billion not incl. reparations!).