Our esteemed leader, the Right Honorable Tony Blair has been making promises to our soldiers in Iraq, and their families at home, which at the moment he hasn’t a clue whether he can deliver. But it does give him good press for the first time in a number of months. He has promised to cut our forces in Iraq by at least a third in the next few months, and possibly by half before the end of the year.
Nice words for the soldiers and relatives, but are they realistic promises? He provides a rider that says “if conditions permit,” but of course the media do not pick up on this so readily. In my opinion it is to early to even consider such promises. Irrespective of what Blair says, it is obvious that the situation in Iraq is far from settled and a withdrawal at this stage does not seem politically or militarily sound. The environment over there is still fragile and taking away the trained troop will leave a fledgling government lacking in strength and support needed to be able to fully carry out their democratic reforms. He claims that Basra is safer than Bagdad. Whether that is the case or not, does he not realise that once the insurgents hear about it, rather than taking on the might of the US forces in the capital, they could do just as much damage by attacking less well supported areas.
Whilst I appreciate that the proposed withdrawal is comforting for many, the worst case scenario is that we pull out, violence flares up again and we are forced to return. Or perhaps that is Tony Blair’s intention, namely to use this news to make himself popular again and leave the mess cleaning to Gordon Brown (did I say cleaning?). If this is the case, this reported withdrawal is not a pleasant publicity stunt.
Anyway, what has happened to this special relationship we have with the US? Are we now saying that it no longer important to maintain unity with the multi-national force?