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The ministry of peace declares victory

Only Blair could repackage scuttle as a political victory. The situation in the south of Iraq has worsened over the last few years as British troops have withdrawn from the main towns, leaving the local areas in the control of the Mahdi Army and the Shi’a militias, often under the influence of Iran. The Times reports that the main tasks assigned to the British Army: pacification and reconstruction, have not been achieved.

Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washing-ton, said the British move would simply hand more power to the Islamist groups backed by neighbouring Iran. “The British cuts will in many ways simply reflect the political reality that the British ‘lost’ the south more than a year ago,” he said.

Although there is no Sunni-Shia carnage to compare with Baghdad, the Shia-dominated south has been torn by a cutthroat internal competition for power that has turned bloody. Since August, both Diwaniyah and Amara have been convulsed by clashes between the mainly Shia Iraqi Army, and Sadr’s militia.

Unwilling to increase defence expenditure and recruitment, the government tried to hide behind a victory message whilst hoping to prevent the possible creation of a Shi’astan with a reduced force. Soldiers have done a sterling job under impossible political conditions, whilst stabbed in the back by the hypocrites in the Liberal Democrats. If the government cannot fulfil the security commitments that Blair undertook on our behalf, it should say so honourably and withdraw leaving the United States to hold the ring. If a hot war results from the Shi’a-Sunni tensions ensuing, Blair’s legacy will stand out: defeat abroad, failure at home.

28 comments to The ministry of peace declares victory

  • Rick S

    Should’ve partitioned the place when we had the opportunity – I know partitioning doesn’t always work but it can’t have been worse then this.

  • Jason

    Anybody up for a sweepstake on a date for US military action in Iran? How about a quid a throw, on the date of first reported engagement? Bagsies 24th May.

  • Now why couldn’t they’ve declare such a victory in Northern Ireland and leave? Maybe now is a good time for a renewed effort to get the Brits out since they give up so easily ;-).

  • spruance

    But Tony Blair will save the world! He must set priorities…

  • RAB

    So some of the boys are coming home, yet Prince Harry is going in.
    I have a horrible preminition that we should start preparing for a State Funeral.

  • The Dude

    The seeds were sown wayback when they decided to disband the Iraqi Army and leave a few thousand pairs of idle hands with nothing to do.

    That these idle hands also had weapons was not a plus point.

    I also reckon partioning would have just lead to African style tribal warfare. Not neccesarily better, just different.

  • Nick M


    Yup, I’ve thought that one. Harry’s “antics” are only going to become more embarrassing as he gets older so why not kill ‘im off now as a National Hero. We in our grief and admiration of the nobility of his sacrifice will forget that we lost the war.

    It’s like that old Cook/Moore skit where the Wing-Commander tells a pilot that morale is low and what we need now is a “pointless sacrifice” so “Tootle over to Hamburg and don’t come back”. I paraphrase.

    I can make a sweet eulogy about the “People’s Prince” and everybody will be taken back to that magical time in ’97 when the nation grieving at the (under)passing of St Diana of Versace was united and rallied by it’s new, young, virile (mais oui, mon Cherie), charismatic and incredibly popular Prime Minister.

    “Tony’s Secret Diary – Keep Out, Gordon!”

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Having recently met several Army officers/others who have served in Iraq, either in the current campaign or in Gulf War 1, I can confidently state that the political establishment in this country has not the faintest idea about what is involved in Iraq.

    Full disclosure: I backed the invasion, the removal of Saddam, and have been pretty rude to some, if not all, of the antis, and I still do not regret the invasion, at least not like those who benefit from 20/20 hindsight. But boy oh boy, it is hard not to feel that the post-invasion phase of the matter was a prize SNAFU.

    Until our Armed forces are massively re-equipped and properly supported, such campaigns cannot be supported in the future, if at all.

  • RAB

    Spot on Johnathan.
    I wasn’t for or against the invasion.
    I just knew it was going to happen long before the UN resolutions wrangle.
    Well my wife works for the MOD , and she told me that a quarter of the British army were put on full alert long before. It was a done deal between Bush and Blair.
    The truth is that the British army has been under financed and under equipped for decades, by politicians who have never heard a shot fired in anger.
    Blair is so “Off with the fairies” that it will be a race between the Metropolitan Police and the men in white coats as to who has custody of him first !

  • Pa Annoyed

    The fundamental problem (if there is one, and I’m not sure that there is) is that rather than going in there and taking over, giving orders, and running the place as if we were a colonial power again; we instead said “It’s their country, we’ll do what the Iraqis want.” We disbanded the Iraqi army because the post-invasion Iraqis were not about to tolerate the same bastards remaining in charge. We didn’t partition the country because the Iraqis wanted it kept in one piece (and I have to say I agree with their reasons). We didn’t plan for the recovery and reconstruction because although we did plan, the Iraqis didn’t like those plans so we had to start again. (If you’ll remember, the plan was to install Chalabi and other Iraqi dissidents who had been living abroad.) The current problems in Baghdad are largely to do with Iraqi politicians wanting to come to political agreements with their opponents, rather than just killing them all.

    Wouldn’t life be so much easier if you could just tell everybody what to do and they weren’t allowed to argue with us all the time? ;->

    I’m sure people needn’t be so scared for the prince’s safety. Unless some paparazzi give his location away, he ought to be just another soldier, and the probability of death for soldiers in Iraq isn’t very high. (If you think otherwise, don’t bother to argue unless you can give me the numerical probabilities. I already know lots of people don’t agree.) It is, in any case, their job. The good they can do there outweighs the additional risk, and that goes as much for a prince as a pauper.

    It’s too early to tell yet what the outcome will be in Iraq, but I can already see that we are fast losing the war in the UK and US. There is evidently no point in me arguing against the gloom and defeatism that seems to have infected even this place. That we have lost has already entered the national political metacontext, and one has an uphill struggle to even persuade anyone there is anything there to question. The debate is over and the consensus is in. As the public’s certainties evolve, so inevitably the nation’s destiny follows. Perhaps, in twenty years time, it will be Iraq’s turn to save us.

  • I’m also going to chime in against the gloom and doom, as is my co-blogger McQ at QandO.

    While the Brits could have pushed more resources into their job in Iraq (I’d much prefer them to concentrate on this important fight than on CCTV cameras and failed nanny state objectives) and perhaps seen more success against the troublemakers in their sector, it hasn’t been all that bad. Most of the violence now is concentrated in the center of Iraq, and there are, in fact, good reasons that Britain can continue to withdraw troops from the southern regions (as they have been doing steadily for some time).

    I can think of a few policies that I’d prefer, if I were put in charge and unaccountable to the day-to-day political pressures Blair is facing, but what would be the point?

  • Paul Marks

    I opposed the judgement to go into Iraq (although I accepted that Saddam’s violations of the cease fire agreement gave a legal justification for going in – legal justification is not the same as “this is the right thing to do”) indeed I remember getting people like Dale Amon angry with me for my negative opinion of many of the local population (my opinion, based on long talks with people who had lived in the country for years and a good luck at the history of the country, was that many people in Iraq could not be trusted and that democracy might not work out well there – after all the when the last democracy was overturned in 1958 the mob danced in the streets of Baghdad whilst the Prime Minister was dragged behind his car, till he died, with his penis cut off).

    However, the recent reports are a bit odd.

    Not just the posting (which was fairly balanced), but front page headlines in the “Daily Mail” and the “Independent” that Mr Blair had “cut and run” (and so on).

    I have disliked Mr Blair for a long time (a lot longer than most people have), but this is just not true. A few hundred troops are going to be removed from the south – but thousands are staying, and (no) Prince Harry is not being sent to Iraq with the intention of getting him killed. There is no “cut and run” and there is no “defeat”.

    As for 2003 – there was no great judgement to dispand the Iraqi army, it just fell apart (the soldiers went off home). Indeed a lot of stockpiles of weapons and explosives could have been destroyed in the war and were not – because it was felt that the army of a democractic Iraq might need them (no surprise that the stuff was later stolen, that has always been the case in this part of the world – and one could have hardly guarded every dump 24 hours a day, they should have been destroyed).

    On “partition”:

    I do not understand this. There was a democratic election for an assembly to write a constitution – they did. There was then a vote for the whole adult population of Iraq on this constitution – and they approved it.

    The Constitution of Iraq basically makes the place a federal state – there are wide powers for local governments.

    If the people had wanted partition they could have had it, but neither Sunni or Shia wanted it (actually, of course, even the Arab population of Iraq is divided up into many clans – just talking about “Sunni and Shia” is far to simple).

    Also how does “partition” deal with Baghdad? This vast city is where most of the violence. And it is a city of Sunni and Shia.

    The Saudi population (and others) are giving money to the Sunni terrorists and the Iranian regime is giving support to both Shia and Sunni terrorists (in spite of the number of Shia that the Sunni terrorists kill).

    And (of course) the Syrian regime allows its friends “the party of God” in Lebanon to arm and train the Shia terrorists, and allows Sunnis to cross the border and join Sunni terrorist groups.

    In spite of all this victory is still quite possible. Indeed the war has gone much better than I thought it might. Most of the population of Iraq do NOT some obsessed with mutilating and killing each other and alien infidels (as I suspected that they might be). Only a minority have turned out to be sadistic. Indeed many thousands of Iraqis have done their best (risking their lives) to try and prevent the sadistic minority of the population (and various nasty types from other places in the Middle East) getting their kicks mutilating and killing people.

    A democratic Iraq will not be perfect – but then democratic Britain and the United States are not perfect either.

  • Julian Taylor

    I wondered about that one as well – wouldn’t it be far easier for us to invade Saudi Arabia (face it, we could just drop 20000 troops in there by chartered 747) than to attack Iran? After all the Saudis have probably far more US and British blood on their hands now than any mad Shia mullah could ever hope for.

    I’m still uneasy about the word ‘invasion’. At the time our troops went into Iraq the operative word was ‘liberation’, so when did freeing the Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein become an invasion of their country?

  • It has to be understood that for Blair,Iraq was another Princess Di moment,a chance for him to “get into khaki” and onto the world stage.
    Like all NuLaboroids,Blair detests the armed services,he has no problem using them to boost his ego whilst destroying them.

  • nicholas gray

    Australia is also having a debate about what it all means in Iraq, and if one should ever announce dates for troop withdrawals. If they’d had weapons of mass destruction, as a good Protestant, I’d have said ‘Go for it!” and backed the war, but I now feel that american intelligence services misled the whole world. We should just have sent in a secret agent to assassinate Saddam, like in the James Bond movies, and the governments could have denied all knowledge.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    nicholas, assassination of Saddam has been tried, and it proved a failure. His personal protection was too good. To kill him, only a military operation a biggish scale was going to work. It would have been nice had Sean Connery zapped the bastard into a pool of sharks, but I am afraid that is strictly for the movies rather than serious policy.

    Having said all of which, assassination as an instrument of power should not be ruled out of bounds. I mean, if we could have nailed Hitler before 1939, we should have done so. Ditto Mao, Stalin, etc.

  • RAB

    The assassination of Hitler was planned during the war, but was vetoed by the Intellegence services , not on the grounds, that it was too difficult or risky, but because Hitler was doing such a wonderful job screwing up the War, if they got rid of him, somebody who knew what they were doing was likely to take over.

  • Jacob

    I doubt your claim. Any sources ?
    Anyway – the idea was to murder Hitler BEFORE the war.

  • Jacob

    As to Iraq:

    I too supported, and support the war.
    But now, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to declare victory and leave.
    The US and Britain don’t have the means, the will, and the balls to rule Iraq. Ruling Iraq probably requires the brutal suppresion of all opponents – much like Saddam did. There’s no way the US or Britain will use such methods – so – there is no point in staying.

    Let them slaughter each other untill some order emerges (or not), until some ruler emerges. And make it clear that unless he behaves he will be taken out like Saddam.

    There is no point of doing a half-hearted job of ruling Iraq, like’s been done in these past 3 years.

  • RAB

    You doubt away old son!
    I read a piece only the other week, about a double agent raffish Jack the lad type, of Irish extraction I think who volunteered to, in effect, be the world’s first suicide bomber but his handlers said “thanks very much but no thanks.”No name unfortunately . In one eye and out the other as it were.
    Nobody would have attempted it before the war, because the powers that be were still in shock after WW1, and in full appeasment mode. You must remember Neville Chamberlains little bit of paper?
    Besides his own Generals tried to kill him because of maniacal incompetence. They weren’t planning to surrender if they had been successful you know!
    As to Iraq, I tend to agree with you. Massive force was needed and we dont have the guts for it, or the publics backing.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    RAB, I share Jacob’s skepticism, although I would not rubbish it without seeing a good source. Is there a book or citation you can link to? Merci.

  • RAB

    Ok. This is the best I could do at short notice.
    You all must know by now what a clutz I am at this computer lark.


    I have never laid eyes one this site before ten minutes ago.
    I just remember stuff , but probably, like the rest of you not all the details.

  • RAB

    Bugger, it doesn’t link (see what I mean!!)


  • RAB

    Anyone know a good book on using computers for idiots!!???
    When you get the page not found message
    The little blue link provided does! Its on the opening page under Allied assasination plots to kill Hitler in the topics section.

  • John J. Coupal

    A half century ago, there was one democracy in the Middle East.

    Today there are two.

    Who ever said that rendering Middle Eastern countries democratic was going to be easy and/or fast?

    Democratic nations – and their residents – rarely make war against their neighbors, or others.

  • Fear not! Blair has already moved forward to the next project – to save The Empire!

  • ktel

    That’s MiniPax, damnit! MiniPax!

  • Paul Marks

    Calling defence against missile attack “Star Wars” was not clever even when the left started doing it – back in the 1980’s (Ronald Reagan called the idea the Strategic Defence Incentive – S.D.I.).

    The left liked to claim that the policy was “Star Wars” and a “mad” policy – actually the “mad” policy was M.A.D. (mutually assured destruction). Reagan was rightly revolted by a policy (thought up in the 1960’s when a large number of accurate long range Soviet missiles first became a threat to the United States) that the response to the deaths of millions of civilians in American cities should be to kill millions of Russian civilians.

    As the Soviet leadership feared for its own survival the policy worked for awhile – but actually (regardless of the A.B.M. treaty) the Soviets were working on ideas for missile defences of their own, for years before President Reagan’s speech. His speech showed that the United States would not be idle in this area (i.e. that the Soviet leadership could not hope to gain an advantage – even in the long term).

    As for a leadership that does not care about their own lives (such as the Iranian one) a policy of replying to the destruction of London or New York by destroying Tehran or Qom would clearly be absurd (as it would not deter attack) as well as imoral (for it is imoral to reply to the killing of millions of civilians by killing millions of civilians). Hence the need for an alternative policy – if the Iranian regime remains in power, or if similar regimes take power in such places as Pakistan (a nation that both has atomic weapons and a strong Islamic movement – “but Pakistan is an ally”, so was Iran before the revolution of 1979).

    As for the word “empire” this was at least used by President Reagan. He called the Soviet Union “an empire of evil” which is exactly what it was (as the tens of millions of innocent victims of it show).

    That some on the left felt this to be a fit target for humour shows a lot more about them than it does about Ronald Reagan.