Tuesday, November 06, 2007

British Defeated - Sue For Peace

Pajamas Media's Wretchard has a very interesting bit on how the British were defeated in Iraq. You know, the very same British who had over 300 years of experience with colonialism and whose wisdom on the matter was obviously absolute.

Although considerable coverage has been given to the possible failure of the British strategy in southern Iraq, relatively little has been written about its possible underlying causes. On Oct 29, the Daily Telegraph ran a sensational article which suggested the British Army’s position had declined to the point where it is pinned down in its bases and can no longer persuade interpreters to accompany troops on patrol.
Rather than fight on, they have struck a deal – or accommodation, as they describe it – with the Shia militias that dominate the city, promising to stay out in return for assurances that they will not be attacked. Since withdrawing, the British have not set foot in the city and even have to ask for permission if they want to skirt the edges to get to the Iranian border on the other side. … "We don’t speak Arabic to explain and our translators were too scared to work for us any more. What benefit were we bringing to these people?"
It was a sad ending to a campaign which had been held up as a shining contrast to the U.S. campaign in Iraq. In August of 2007 the Washington Post described the shrunken state of the British influence in Iraq’s oil port.
"The British have basically been defeated in the south," a senior U.S. intelligence official said recently in Baghdad. They are abandoning their former headquarters at Basra Palace, where a recent official visitor from London described them as "surrounded like cowboys and Indians" by militia fighters. An airport base outside the city, where a regional U.S. Embassy office and Britain’s remaining 5,500 troops are barricaded behind building-high sandbags, has been attacked with mortars or rockets nearly 600 times over the past four months.
So where has the success in Iraq come from? The US Marines Small Wars Manual. Semper Fi. I think this goes to the core of the American character and something the British were known for. Muddling through. Or as Churchill put it, "Americans always do the right thing after they have tried everything else". Evidently that is no longer true of the British. Sad.

Which brings us the question of what is the next step? I look at that in Progress Is Our Most Important Product. Let us see what the Pajama's Guy, Wretchard aka Richard Fernandez, has to say on that subject.
The US threatened to reinforce Basra, an act which would have humiliated Gordon Brown.

The US warned that a brigade of troops would be sent from Baghdad to take "appropriate action" to maintain security. … Downing Street deemed it to be politically unacceptable for the Americans to replace British troops in Basra, as it would glaringly expose the growing differences between the two countries over Iraq.
Those highlights between those differences have become more invidious with the comparative success the surge is having even in Shi’ite areas. Recently US Army Colonel Michael Garrett described a process the reverse of Basra in the area south of Baghdad where civilian reconstruction teams were being deployed — not withdrawn — into the provinces with increasing success. Garrett, the commander of the 4th Brigade Combat team of the 25th Division contrasted his previous deployment, when "violence was at it’s highest point" to the current situation where "we really have gained the initiative … attacking al Qaeda and Shi’a extremist militias with much vigor … the attack levels are at the lowest today that they’ve been in our 13-plus months here on the ground". Most importantly, successes were being scored not only against al-Qaeda, but against Shi’ite militias. Garrett pointed out that the Shi’ites were starting to provide crucial intelligence which enabled them to neutralize high-value targets.
So there you have it. Help deliver a better life to the people and they respond by helping to defend not only the improved conditions, but also the suppliers of the improvements. No doubt it will ultimately descend into "what have you done for me lately", but by that time the Iraqi government should be running the show and then Iraqis will only have Iraqis to blame.

H/T Instapundit

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