Mr Blair apologised to troops in Basra for their being away from their families and loved ones at Christmas, but sensibly added that he "could not guarantee" that there would not still be British troops in Iraq this time next year. Members of a cross-party group of MPs who recently visited Iraq, however, have predicted that British troops will be committed there for another 10 to 15 years. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=595356 Reminds me of that saying that Britain acquired its 19th century Empire "in a fit of absentmindedness". However, "10 to 15 years" seems a more useful estimate than "might still be there next Christmas". Nine years virtually to the day after the arrival of IFOR, we still have a reduced force in Bosnia. Iraq is a much larger country. Any thoughts?