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« The Business: The New Two Nations Of Britain | Main | Dale Carpenter: Ten Areas of Agreement Among Conservatives on Marriage »

Comments

Adrian Owens

Editor,

With your commentary you do "lay it on thick" with the good news. However, given that those who want merely to decry the events of the past 3 years are deaf to all the good taking place in the Middle East I can't blame you.

I have an Iraqi acquaintance with family in Iraq who sets the whole issue in a timescale measured in centuries rather than years. He riminded me that Sunni Muslims have been in control in Iraq in various guises for almost all of the past 1400 years or so. The Shiite majority is having to learn the art of government for the first time and they are not making too bad a fist of it.

My concern is whether the West has the stomach and patience to see the job through. My acquaintance says allied troops will be required for 10 years or more yet our timeframe seems to be measured in months - perhaps 18 at most. This impatience applies to the media as well e.g. Nick Clarke on WATO this lunch: Why is the constitution taking so long?". The reply from the Iraqi government official was very prtinent he pointed to the problems experienced with the European constitution.

The Iraqis really are building something with the potential to be shattering to the regions despots - a civil society. Let's hang in for the long haul.

Oberon Houston

It is heartening to see discussion on this picking up, as it is vitally important that we develop a way forward. It is now clear that the majority of the hostility in Iraq is not ‘fundamentalist’ (although that is certainly present too), but most of the resistance is actually Sunni based, and related to the domestic political agenda in the country, not global terrorism.

Because of this, I would like to see a timescale for a pull-out and there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, I think that domestic public opinion could swing rapidly against the presence of British troops in Iraq if there is another incident similar to the Warrior one (where our troops were fire-bombed by locals). The type of incident I am specifically referring to is one where there is seen to be widespread public hostility to our troop presence in the country leading to domestic pressure for a withdrawal.

Secondly, if we accept that there is a ‘political’ time limit to our presence, and I realise that this stance is debatable in itself, but if one does accept this, then it would be surely prudent to spend our remaining time in Iraq wisely. The best way to do this is to set a fixed timetable for withdrawal. This will give the Iraqi government a real incentive to reach a workable consensus with the Sunni’s prior to a scaling down of troop numbers. Without this consensus, any number of troops present, for any number of years, will never bring stability and peace to Iraq.

malcolm

I do not think you do your case any good at all by putting out such a hopelessly one sided view of the Iraq war.
I do not think that it is 'good news' that all the anti- war candidates have been beaten.It means that the majority of us in the Consertative party who do not support the war have no choice on this matter.Surely a cause for regret.
Mort Kondrake claims that the terrorists 'are no longer capable of launching even platoon sized attacks' against coalition forces.If that were true we could leave immmediatly as the Ireaqi gov't would easily be able to handle security.Unfortunately as I'm sure Mort well knows it isn't.
Quin Hillyers article is just a joke.As any student of this conflict knows it is the gross incompetence of our political leaders in Iraq (with the connivance of many Iraqis) which allows people like al-Zarqawi to continue to operate throughout much of Sunni Iraq.
It is of course good news that the constitution has been accepted.Now as the situation is so good according to these two commentators we should set a date to leave.Certainly no more than a few months.If we stay longer Blair and Conoleeza Rice are likely to find that their sabre rattling toward Iran has been ignored like all other such empty gestures and I don't want our massively outnumbered soldiers to be around to have to deal with it.

Selsdon Man

When I read neo-con articles such this, I am reminded of (ex Pink Floyd) Roger Water's song "The Bravery of Being Out of Range".

Oberon Houston

It has been said that Tony Blair used the ‘Macmillan Principle’ when he decided to back the US lead invasion of Iraq. This principle stemmed from the Suez Crisis of 1956, and it stated that Britain should never again go against American foreign policy decisions.

When Nasser of Egypt summarily nationalised the Suez Canal in 1956, it triggered British and French military intervention to regain control of the asset they financed. Things did not go well. To the severe embarrassment of the British, President Eisenhower forced Britain and France into a humiliating climb down, and it is because of this that Macmillan came up with his principle, the principle that took us into another war nearly half a century later.

What Britain failed to understand in the 1950s was that the post-war world would be dominated by the USA and Russia, not Britain and France. Eisenhower understood this. He also understood that the Russians were looking for an excuse to become influential in the middle east, and the Suez crisis was the ideal opportunity to do so. Eisenhower however showed considerable foresight in the crisis. Instead of becoming directly involved, he understood that the way to maintain stability in the middle-east region was to ensure that sovereign countries were protected from all forms of aggressive intervention.

Compare and contrast this foresight to the foreign policy of the current Washington Administration, where exactly the opposite policy has prevailed. Sovereign countries are invaded and the region destabilised. Most of the insurgency in Iraq is caused, not by Al’Qaeda fundamentalists, but Sunnis resisting becoming a minority faction in Iraq, and British troops are now in the impossible situation of being present in regions of Iraq where the locals do not want them. The chain of events continues to unfold, Iranians have now elected a radical President, who has recalled moderate ambassadors from around the world, to be replaced with those more attuned to current foreign policy. Programs are pursued with the aim of acquiring nuclear weapons. Militias are armed, trained and released to attack British troops in southern Iraq, and another sovereign nation, Israel, directly threatened with annihilation.

Britain was caught out by a change in world order in the 1950s, but luckily the President of the United States was not. Britain, fifty years later has again been caught out by a change in the world order. Unfortunately this time the United States does not have a President Eisenhower.

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