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New York Times Editorial - The Wrong Way Out of Iraq

#1
August 13, 2007

EDITORIAL

Wrong Way Out of Iraq

As Americans argue about how to bring the troops home from Iraq, British forces are already partway out the door. Four years ago, there were some 30,000 British ground troops in southern Iraq. By the end of this summer, there will be 5,000. None will be based in urban areas. Those who remain will instead be quartered at an airbase outside Basra. Rather than trying to calm Iraq’s civil war, their main mission will be training Iraqis to take over security responsibilities, while doing limited counterinsurgency operations.

That closely follows the script some Americans now advocate for American forces in Iraq: reduce the numbers — and urban exposure — but still maintain a significant presence for the next several years. It’s a tempting formula, reaping domestic political credit for withdrawal without acknowledging that the mission has failed.

If anyone outside the White House truly believes this can work — that the United States can simply stay in Iraq in reduced numbers, while ignoring the civil war and expecting Iraqi forces to impose order— the British experience demonstrates otherwise. There simply aren’t reliable, effective and impartial Iraqi forces ready to keep the cities safe, nor are they likely to exist any time soon. And insurgents are not going to stop attacking Americans just because the Americans announce that they’re out of the fight.

In Basra — after four years of British tutelage — police forces are infiltrated by sectarian militias. The British departure will cede huge areas to criminal gangs and rival Shiite militias. Without Iraqis capable of taking over, the phased drawdown of British troops has turned ugly. The remaining British troops hunkered down in the city at Basra Palace are under fire from all directions. Those at the airbase are regularly bombarded.

And Basra should be easier than Baghdad. Most of the population is Shiite, and neither Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia nor other Sunni insurgent groups have a significant presence. Elsewhere in Iraq, where internal rivalries are overshadowed by the Sunni insurgency, sectarian civil war and rampant ethnic cleansing, a reduced American force might find itself in an even worse predicament. The clear lesson of the British experience is that going partway is not a realistic option.

The United States cannot walk away from the new international terrorist front it created in Iraq. It will need to keep sufficient forces and staging points in the region to strike effectively against terrorist sanctuaries there or a Qaeda bid to hijack control of a strife-torn Iraq.

But there should be no illusions about trying to continue the war on a reduced scale. It is folly to expect a smaller American force to do in a short time what a much larger force could not do over a very long time. That’s exactly what the British are now trying to do. And the results are painfully plain to see.

© 2007 – The New York Times Company
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/13/opinion/13mon1.html



An interesting article - a couple of years ago we were criticising the Yanks for the way they did their business and now we've gone full circle...
 
#2
Bit rich suggesting the British are short-termist. When Britain went on Imperial adventures it stayed, learnt the language and culture, intermarried, built schools, hospitals, educated, provided technology and sustainable government... America has no interest in the nuances of the cultural views of its Eastern opponents (there was a recent Radio 4 or 5 interview which implored America to at least learn the language of the cultures it seeks to influence - if anyone can recall it I'd like to post it here).

http://www.nysun.com/article/46517

There is something faintly gruesome in the fact that as schoolchildren nationwide are mastering the likes of bonjour and ni hao, among the 1,000 workers at the American Embassy in Iraq, the number of people who speak Arabic is six. At the FBI, out of 12,000, it is 33.

We are told that we should learn one of the Romance or Germanic languages in order to gain familiarity with another culture. The culture that America needs to make contact with most, though, is Arab, and especially in the context of military and intelligence gathering.

The common riposte is that there are also translators who work on call. But still, imagine if in the American Embassy in France only five people could have a conversation in French, even with scattered French speakers "on call."
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
The British are half-right. The half that is wrong is the forces that are still in Iraq rather than skipping out on planes as fast as we can get out.

There is a country full of religious fundamentalists trying ever so hard to start a clash of civilisations between Islam and the West, and it is succeeding. It's the USA.
 
#4
Biped said:
The British are half-right. The half that is wrong is the forces that are still in Iraq rather than skipping out on planes as fast as we can get out.

There is a country full of religious fundamentalists trying ever so hard to start a clash of civilisations between Islam and the West, and it is succeeding. It's the USA.
Hmmm ... very interesting Biped.

Are you accusing the USA of blowing up your trains, etc.? Attacks on your airports?

It seems to me that you Brit's have your share of active Islamic fundamentalists whom are plotting and planning and blowing things up in your country.

Are you one of 'those,' that think our '911' was a cospiracy? If so, I can sort of understand, since to believe that crap is BS!

The fact is Biped, the GWOT is a real war! Remember the Taliban's rule of Afganistan? How would you like to live under their rules and those strict Islamic laws?

Loose this GWOT and you might just find out how great that would be. :roll: :wink:

I found some of the comments to this article interesting.:

http://www.lse.co.uk/ShowStory.asp?...ine=muslims_stage_demo_outside_police_station
 
#5
Trip_Wire said:
Biped said:
The British are half-right. The half that is wrong is the forces that are still in Iraq rather than skipping out on planes as fast as we can get out.

There is a country full of religious fundamentalists trying ever so hard to start a clash of civilisations between Islam and the West, and it is succeeding. It's the USA.
Hmmm ... very interesting Biped.

Are you accusing the USA of blowing up your trains, etc.? Attacks on your airports?

It seems to me that you Brit's have your share of active Islamic fundamentalists whom are plotting and planning and blowing things up in your country.

Are you one of 'those,' that think our '911' was a cospiracy? If so, I can sort of understand, since to believe that crap is BS!

The fact is Biped, the GWOT is a real war! Remember the Taliban's rule of Afganistan? How would you like to live under their rules and those strict Islamic laws?

Loose this GWOT and you might just find out how great that would be. :roll: :wink:

I found some of the comments to this article interesting.:

http://www.lse.co.uk/ShowStory.asp?...ine=muslims_stage_demo_outside_police_station
And not to mention those terrible Korean Christian aid workers... Evil the lot of 'em; going out there spreading their murderous acts... they're all as bad as each uvver! Religious lunatics...

Edited for typo.
 
#6
Trip, Bipeds saying the US (and the UK, with others) went into Iraq and stirred up the hornets nest, and has now got terrorists popping up all uber der platz.

I guess he's suggesting that, had we not invaded, we would not be experiencing the problems you describe. I'm inclined to agree.

Interesting, by the way, to note that as soon as someone voiced opposition to the war in Iraq (not GWOT, more like TWAT) you asked if they were a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.

No, he seems to be a realist.
 
#7
The_Goon said:
No, he seems to be a realist.
So he's not a smug armchair tart? Oh! :?
 
#8
He's quite possibly both, but his post in the intelligence cell about past US policy (in the Brits thread, posted by Yank_eyetie) was quite accurate, although possibly too anti-American.

Seems that he's not far wrong in his assessment in this thread. The Brits are drawing down, but one airbase full of UK troops is one big target.
 
#9
The_Goon said:
Trip, Bipeds saying the US (and the UK, with others) went into Iraq and stirred up the hornets nest, and has now got terrorists popping up all uber der platz.

I guess he's suggesting that, had we not invaded, we would not be experiencing the problems you describe. I'm inclined to agree.

Interesting, by the way, to note that as soon as someone voiced opposition to the war in Iraq (not GWOT, more like t**t) you asked if they were a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.

No, he seems to be a realist.

If you turn on the light and the roaches scatter that just means you have a really bad roach problem. If you didn't see them before it doesn't mean you didn't have them.

Biped seems to just have anger issues and I just read his posts with a grain of salt. He doesn't like Americans, it's his right to voice his opinion and I respect that although I do not agree with it. The US doesn't always get it right but it doesn't always get it wrong either.

To think that the US is the cause of the world terrorism is a pretty inane and rather uninformed statement. These guys have been doing this crap long before the US was ever a country.

Also, having the son pay for the mistakes of the father is another misguided way to look at things. I wasn't here 70 years ago and I doubt many who read these forums were. Why are those things being brought up to defend policy arguments?

Bottom line is, Iraq is a clusterF*ck but if some of the reporting I've been reading lately is in indication, it may be getting better. Time will tell.

A personal thanks to any and all Brits having served at the US side in Iraq and abroad. Don't let one article stand as US public opinion on the matter. Our journos are just as bad as yours and usually way out of touch with the general population.

I would wager any one of you that if you set foot in a US bar in about any city, wearing your uniform, you would never be able to pay for a drink. That's the public opinion on our soldiers and our allies.. Today. Not 70 years ago.
 
#10
Not sure why you're talking about 70 years... Not mentioned by myself at any rate, you're probably referring to Bipeds succint historical analysis over in the int cell. It's anti-american flavoured, but with a good smattering of fact.

Without a doubt terrorism existed before the US (really, the US once grew terrorism, remember when you rebelled? Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?). However, if you compare the scale of the problem prior to the Iraq war and shaken the whole world up, then you'll see that terrorists are rather more active and their appear to be more of them now than their were.

The new crop of terrorists may have harboured feelings of discontent towards the west but were never too bothered to act; Now, they've been riled and are willing to act. I think it's more than fair to blame TWAT for the current crop of terrorism, or a vast swathe of it.

Sadly, our country doesn't honour servicemen and women so well, but not a lot we can do about that.
 

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