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Brits soft in Basra article

#1
This is an old argument you are all aware of that came from the spams prior to black watch deployment to the triangle, but here is a good article supporting the Brit way of doing things from a Yank who seems to know quite a lot. It's from the correspondent gary brecher (known as "war nerd") whose articles can be found at :

http://www.exile.ru/archive/by_author/gary_brecher.html

He has a few interesting things to say about abu gharib too if you can find the article.


The British begged Bremer to keep the Iraqi army going, give it new uniforms and hire it as local mercenaries. They were thinking smart. They actually know something about colonizing Arabs. But Bush's people weren't listening to the Brits or anybody else. They were too busy lying to themselves that Iraqis were just Ohio Presbyterians in funny clothes, real nice folks under those turbans.
So we shut down the Iraqi army overnight. Boom! Suddenly there were 500,000 armed men out of a job, hanging around the house getting more and more pissed off. First they tried asking for their jobs back, then they staged demonstrations, and finally they just said the Hell with it, I'll dig up the AK-47 and RPG I buried in the back yard and start killing the foreigners who put me out of a job. From what I hear, the Brits are so pissed off with Bush that they've finally started saying we told you so. They're right, too. In fact they come off looking pretty good. One of the stories you probably haven't been seeing is how quiet things seem to be in Basra, where the British troops are in control. Basra's a Shiite city, just like Najaf and Karbala -- so how come it hasn't blown up like they have?
As far as I can tell, it's because the Brits are just plain better than us at handling the locals. They let the Shiites live the way they feel comfortable living. And that really ticked off Bremer's people, who started leaking stories about how the Brits were a bunch of Arab-loving weaklings.
I found this article from March 24, where some reporter from Dow Jones news is whining about how the Brits are taking it too easy on the locals:
"Some Basra residents complain that Britain, whose troops occupy Basra, is turning a blind eye while the religious establishment usurps the running of the city through intimidation and threats against secular residents. Explaining why the British are loath to intervene, Maj. David King, a British spokesman, says: 'We are not here to dictate our way of life,' but merely 'to provide a basic foundation to get Iraqis back on their feet.'"
We weren't going to let the Shiites live their way. Nope, we had to change them every which way at once. We were even letting Baptist missionaries in! How stupid is that? If I saw a foreign army riding shotgun for jerks like the Pentecostals I had to listen to when I was a kid, I'd probably turn Shiite and start spraying the Bible-bashers myself.
You can't mess with people that way and expect them to wait around for you to get smart forever. Especially not hotheads like the Shiites. So at the beginning of April, it boiled over. Riots, sniping, you name it. But there again, the way the Brits handled it was so much smarter. On April 3 the Shiites in Basra challenged the British just like they did the Americans. A bunch of armed Shiites stomped in and took over the governor's office in Basra. But the Brits realized it wasn't the time to get tough. So they made the visiting Jihadis some tea and cakes or whatever, and let them yell and talk big for a while. After a few days, the Shiites got bored and went home. It worked, in other words.
And don't think it's because the Brits are soft. They may be a lot of things, but not soft. Who do you think was the first to use poison gas against Kurdish villages? If you said Saddam, no lollipop for you. It was the RAF, with the personal approval of Winston Churchill. There's nobody tougher than the Brits. But they're smart too, cold-blooded. They realized the time wasn't right to piss off the Shiites -- not with the Sunni triangle already worse than Compton on a three-day weekend. So they played nice. Result: on April 4, Najaf blew up, with huge riots, 40 Shiites and 2 GIs dead. But in Basra and the rest of the British-occupied parts of southern Iraq, no casualties.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#2
Good article, well found.

And, of course, there is no weakness when it comes to dealing it out - as in Amarah last summer. What was done there, and not in Najaf/Karbala/etc., was that the Brits kept all the Press away. Massive fights, high 'bodycount' (horrible term for dead humans), and very little adverse press.
 
#4
It's true thatwe do have a "soft" approach but agree with the Al Amarah comment. I was there and it was rough. However, when it was needed we can rise to the challenge and won some good battles. No press interest because it wasn't Basra and appart from a few papers, we got little coverage.

I sometimes think, disloyal to the Government though it is), that the reason the fighting in Al Amarah in Aug recieved so little coverage was because Mr Blair had to keep it quiet.

How can tis demi-god of world politics defend the swift war and say that Iraq was on the road to freedom when we were still fighting a war using all weapons systems bar MILAN, (this includes some useful assistance from the US fly boys).

Lets keep being friendly and softly, softly but always smile and talk to the locals with a cocked weapon.
 
#6
War Nerd gets some stick from his compatriots about being an "arab-loving commie" or similar, but he does write some fairly observant articles.
 
#7
One difference is that we don't want, or expect immediate results.
UK armed forces have learned through experience -almost a sixth-sense, as to what is the appropriate method of dealing with potentially explosive situations.
A proportionate response may take more time to have an effect but it gives the opposition time to decide it was THEIR idea to pack up & go home - VERY important when dealing with those who have a macho image of themselves.
If the US sees further conflicts like this being likely in the future, then they need to take a serious look at how we operate & train their people accordingly.
 
#9
Good Article, yanks are mad did you know that the u.s infantry training manual is written, so an eight year old can understand it. food for thought
 
#10
Fantastic article. It's amazing how quickly the crime rate went down in Baghdad just after it's fall when the Brits were told, "NI rules, get it done."

Kudos to our British brothers!
 
#11
Basra?

Anyway, slightly off-topic but not worth a separate thread at this stage, Attorney-General announcement expected in Parliament soon about unprecedented prosecution of British troops for murder, allegedly in Basra area during TELIC 1. Not a case we havent already heard of.

WEAPONS TIGHT on "anecdotes".

hackle
 

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