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I agree it'll be equally bad to withdraw. The potential for a Islamic Greater Iran superpower encompassing Iran and Iraq, with its regional power, as well as oil reserves, has the potential to become a global power that we can't tolerate.

We need to contain Iran now, and that means a viable Iraq that is pro-western and democratic and we certainly wont get this by withdrawing our troops now. It's what Iran would love us to do.

Lunchtime O'Booze?

We've all been there.

There are better cases for troop withdrawal from Iraq than this from Ancram. This has the feel of a politician who has been out of the limelight wanting a bit of attention. Ancram was statesmanlike when he was on the frontbench. He should shut up now and retire gracefully. The iraq war was WRONG imo but UK soldiers must not withdraw until Iraq's army is MUCH stronger.

What national interest is served by the troops providing target practise for the future combatants in an Iraqi civil war?

Conservatives believe in furthering the national interest if they believe in anything.

Bring the boys home, they won the war, it is the UN's role to sort out the peace.

From the BBC's synopsis I got the impression that Michael Ancram thinks the civil war is between "Sunnis and Shias", and that the "insurgents" who bomb mosques and the like are representative of Sunnis. They are not; they are extremist Wahhabis of the "takfiri" stripe, meaning that they claim it is acceptable to kill people because of certain ideological or theological differences. (Normal Sunnis regard Shi'ites as heretics, but do not think it acceptable to massacre them.) The Sunnis in Iraq are the ordinary Muslims of central Iraq and a fair proportion of the Kurds as well, who are in character much like the ordinary Muslims of Egypt or Syria. It is in nobody's interests to abandon them to the extremist insurgency (and I speak as someone who opposed the war at the outset).

Liam Fox says exactly what I would say echoed in Yusuf's comments above "in nobody's interests to abandon them to the extremist insurgency".

However it would change if we did see a full civil war between the Arab (as against Kurdish) Sunni and Shi'ite populations. Hopefully the curent troop levels can stop that happening.

Editor - surely it's two vacuums Hague & Cameron?

Bring the boys home, they won the war, it is the UN's role to sort out the peace.

Posted by: Guido Fawkes | April 21, 2006 at 13:09

Last time I looked Britain had not resigned its seat on The Security Council. The Security Council it is which guards "world peace" - is it Chapter 7 of The Charter ?

Guido: What national interest is served by the troops providing target practise for the future combatants in an Iraqi civil war? Conservatives believe in furthering the national interest if they believe in anything."

Stopping Iraq from going from a totalitarian terrorist-supporting state under Saddam to a failed state that would provide a haven for terrorists is clearly in the UK national interest.

Guido: "Bring the boys home, they won the war, it is the UN's role to sort out the peace."

When did the UN sort anything out?

Excellent editorial. There is no point in cutting and running just because you think from the Opposition back benches that it's going pear shaped. What kind of message would that send, to militias, insurgents, terrorists, and Iranian day trippers locally and indeed internationally? The only sensible policy is to announce an intent to leave when the job is done, stick with it and gradually let local forces take full responsibility. This is precisely what is being done.

I don't know how many people went to see the Lawrence of Arabia exhibition in the Imperial War Museum some time back, but I recall tucked away (for those visitors with patience and half-decent specs) an interesting letter El Orents had penned on the Iraqi Insurgency in the 20's, and also his bullet point lessons on how a Westerner should approach Arab culture. To paraphrase the former: 'The Ottomans had previously governed Mesopotamia with a handful of local levies based in Baghdad, while now the Indian Empire had been asked for additional forces on top of the many British divisions already there, and this as well as the controversial use of the RAF to bomb villages. Why not follow the old practice and hand over administration and all this policing?' So much of the analysis is relevent today, and seems now to have in many places been adopted.

On the UN - well, sorry but how many Rwanda films do we have to watch at the flicks before we figure that one out? Troops deployed by such associations only have the determination of the government of its sender. UN activity in Sierra Leone, a rare success, only worked because of a couple of Western States, Sandline (despite Robin Cook's cock-ups), and earlier the Nigerians in ECOWAS - though you never got to hear of the poor blighters in the latter.

Thank heavens in MND(SE) we were working with professional allies like the Cloggy marines and the Vikings.

If you are missing Mark Steyn's columns and are interested in these issues I recommend his excellent extended article on Iran that was in the newslinks a couple of days ago.

Yusuf makes the point very well.

If you think that the bastards who kill innocent people for the hell of it are representative of the average Iraqi, then getting out now would be the only option.

If however, you think that they are as representative of the average population as George Galloway is here, then staying is the only option.

A fully trained Iraqi army will be useless (or potentially dangerous) unless the political situation is sorted out in Iraq, and a new government is selected. And that looks a far off prospect.

When Saddam was murdering his own people in their thousands the media was uninterested.

Of course the troops should come home. We had no business going into Iraq in the first place and I am sure if we and the Americans withdrew the amount of violence would reduce dramatically.
British troops should only be involved in conflicts that threaten our national interest or that of our allies. Iraq does not therefore we should withdraw.
One thing that really makes me angry about some on this site is the way when instead of arguing with someones opinion there is a resort to insults and name calling. It is childish and doesn`t do the Conservative Party any good whatsoever.

Jack Stone: "I am sure if we and the Americans withdrew the amount of violence would reduce dramatically."

Do you have ANYTHING to back up your assertion, Jack?

"British troops should only be involved in conflicts that threaten our national interest or that of our allies. Iraq does not therefore we should withdraw."

That's a surprisingly nationalistic viewpoint coming from a moderniser.

"It is childish and doesn`t do the Conservative Party any good whatsoever."

Says the person who told right-wingers to "sod off".

Please can you comment on the opinion poll thread? :D

The main thing that has discredited the anti-war movement is that since the invasion they have called for us to pull out (see this article in the Guardian two years ago by Ben Rogers, the recent GoldList candidate).
Jack, I disagree with your conclusion that Iraq is not in our national interest, a stable, democratic Middle East is profoundly in our national interest - cutting and running will do that cause no favours (see the Newground paper, co-written by Ben with James Mawdsely, for innovative conservative thinking on broadening our concept of national interest).

If you are missing Mark Steyn's columns and are interested in these issues I recommend his excellent extended article on Iran that was in the newslinks a couple of days ago.

Yes really an own goal of The Spectator to lose Mark Steyn.......it really is a bit soggy as a periodical without the backbone he provided

And The Telegraph. He infuriated left-wingers with his strident views (expressed in incredibly witty articles) as more often than not he turned out to be right.

but could the Hefferlump really be expected to accept a fellow columnist with a better sense of humour, better style and better judge of events?

The middle east is more violent today with Britsh and American troops in Iraq than it as been for decades.
It is only since troops have been in the country have we seen terrorism and mass violence.
You can not impose our values and our democratic way of life on others. Not only can we not but we should not even try.
Countries should be allowed to find there own destiny not have it imposed on them.
I feel that we should not keep trying to be the worlds policeman and only intervene in countrys when one country threatens another not just when we disapprove of the way a country is being run.
I am afraid you are trying to re-write history if you want to make out that Iraq was a more violent place before the invasion. It is common sense that if you take away the catalyst for the violence much of the violence will cease as the justifaction for the violence will have been taken away.

I don't think I need a lesson in history, Jack.

You wrote: "It is only since troops have been in the country have we seen terrorism and mass violence."

You share the peaceniks' usual chronology problem...

9/11 - the biggest act of terrorism in world history - happened before the liberations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

As I noted in my orginal post more people were killed by Saddam in the aftermath of Iraq War I than have died in Iraq War II. Iraq's problems didn't begin when we took out one of the world's most murderous dictators. The hope of resolution did begin.

Editor, Jack Stone is probably that Ukipper who boasted about posting on here under a false name to try and wind us up.

"".....under a false name to try and wind us up""
Try to, Richard, try to.


Yes withdrawing our troops now would be a grave mistake,showing western weakness and a propaganda victory for islamists.

But, we cannot stay there indefinately, eventually a time will come when we have to withdraw.

While there is hope we should stay, but if it becomes a true civil war or there is no real progress within, say, another year we should cut our losses and stop wasting British lives on this war that should never of happened.

The middle east is more violent today with Britsh and American troops in Iraq than it as been for decades.
It is only since troops have been in the country have we seen terrorism and mass violence.

Absolute Twaddle.

Since British troops have been in Iraq it has not attacked Iran, nor has it invaded Iraq. In your book of course these wars were non-violent and no deaths ensued.

With Coalition troops there Saddam has not once threatened his neighbours; nor has he attacked the Kurds.

It is true that the Middle East was much better when France and Britain held the Mandates and ran these countries. Britain gave Iraq independence in 1932 but by 1941 had to invade to stop them allying with Nazi Germany.

You see Jack Stone we call this The White Man's Burden - I doubt you know much about Kipling but unfortunately for us the world only ticks properly if English-speakers wind the clocks

"Try to, Richard, try to."

Sorry, I admit that was sloppy grammar.

UK and US and many other Coalition troops have to stay in Iraq while the Iraqi Security and Defence Forces continue to be built up, there will be a tipping point I think, they may only control 30% of the country at the moment and this may only be edging up slowly but once this reaches 50% I'm sure that the authorities will quickly establish control over the rest, there needs to be more action to rebuild Iraq's Armed Forces - they need some fighter aircraft and training in how to use them and some tanks, obviously nothing like the numbers they had before.

Donald Rumsfeld though made severe strategic errors from the start and has so far failed totally to acknowledge that he was so busy thinking how clever he had been in winning the war with so few troops that he failed to realise that holding a country as large as Iraq would take far more troops than it did to take it.

Also his failure to have an interim authority ready to takeover territory even if only nominally as it was liberated and that no attempt was made to preserve as much of the Armed Forces and Security and Police Structure as possible so as to facilitate a smoother transition to maintaining Law & Order using as much as possibly Iraqi personnel instead of which the system was just ripped up.

The numbers of UK Troops though shouldn't be increased, it would be crazy now either to increase the committment because at some point Iraq is going to have to be self dependent, but equally it now looks as if there is appearing an agreement between most Sunni and Shia whether Arab or Kurd which once formed will have far greater support in Iraq then either the Provisional Authority or the government after the 1st set of elections.

"On the UN - well, sorry but how many Rwanda films do we have to watch at the flicks before we figure that one out? "

That's such a bad example. The UN only failed in Rwanda because France and the US actively worked to sabotaged the mission (read Prunet, Melvern, etc if you're interested). Dallaire was warning for months what was going to happen, and Rwandan history backed him up - the problem was the outside world couldn't care less.

Incidentally, the UN bashers might want to look to the literally hundreds of conflicts where the blue helmets are the only things holding back brutal wars, including numerous missions that have run for several decades. That's on a shoestring budget too, despite the bureaucratic image it has - Dallaire's descriptions of a mission unable to pay for food or office supplies, let alone arm itself, are pretty haunting given subsequent events.

"It is true that the Middle East was much better when France and Britain held the Mandates and ran these countries."

I'm sure the villagers chemical bombed by the RAF would agree with you.

I'm sure the villagers chemical bombed by the RAF would agree with you.

Posted by: Andrew | April 22, 2006 at 02:49

They most probably would agree that life was much better. Many Germans much prefer the world that came after RAF bombing to the safe secure world of the dictator.

We were however speaking of The Middle East as a whole which is a geopolitical question. Your outburst fits into the category that we should never have fought world war two because people got killed.

The RAF bombed tribes which were troublesome to the integrity of Iraq. Had this been carried out more effectively today British troops might be in ontrol of Basra.

The UN only failed in Rwanda because France and the US actively worked to sabotaged the mission

and Kofi Annan was "in charge"

Andrew: "The UN only failed in Rwanda because France and the US actively worked to sabotaged the mission..."

But that is THE basic problem with the UN Andrew. There is always one or two nations that can veto it doing something properly at all. It may have been the nations you mentioned in Rwanda - it's Russia and China in Darfur - it's Russia on Hamas...

You're right in that the UN does do well when all nations are in support of, say, its peacekeeping operations but that doesn't happen so much anymore.

I have to wonder whose troops the UN enthusiasts think would be deloyed as part of a UN mission to Iraq...

As for Michael Ancram, his defeatism is the very definition of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Withdrawal of coalition forces would guarantee the collapse of the Iraqi government, and the probably break up of the country on ethnic lines.

How anyone can think that swathes of Iraq falling into the hands of the Mullahs would be in our national interests is beyond me.

Acting in that way would also taint and limit British foreign policy for decades to come.

"But that is THE basic problem with the UN Andrew. ........It may have been the nations you mentioned in Rwanda - it's Russia and China in Darfur - it's Russia on Hamas..."


Absolutely - that barb wasn't aimed at you btw, more at the general trend of damning the whole organisation based on the misdeeds of certain SC members. The obvious answer, imo, is weakening the veto and expanding the SC. Guess who's holding up the former?

As for UN troops in Iraq: a greater contingent could have been involved, immediately after the invasion, if some diplomatic finesse had been applied (eg US presents it as getting out as fast as possible, following removal of Saddam).

While they obviously couldn't replace 150,000 Americans, nations like Bangladesh, Uruguay and Nigeria have in the past contributed deployments of many thousands (eg there are 10,000 in Sierra Leone), China is rapidly expanding its peacekeeping contributions as its global role grows, India has vast armies (again only available under the UN), the Turks could have been deployed (in the south obviously), Egypt would likely get involved etc etc. Multiple ethnicities on patrol in the most troubled areas would be far less troubling to the locals than constant blocks of US troops - the image of a single country invading and dominating another is a powerful one, and reinforcing it at every single street corner is not helpful.

This isn't a question of multilateralism btw - it's merely an acknowledgement that perception drives reality. We have a situation now where the presence of American troops motivates violence, yet they cannot and (rightly) won't leave for fear of the country's total disintegration. If the UN had been involved in the early post-invasion period, more countries would have committed troops under that legitimisation - of course, it's too late now, no country wants its troops there anymore.

>>>>As for UN troops in Iraq: a greater contingent could have been involved, immediately after the invasion, if some diplomatic finesse had been applied<<<<
From where? Committment of troops is voluntary on the part of Nation States because the original ambition of the UN to have a Permanent Force that was even in the original Constitution and which it was believed that every Member State would contribute to never happened, the Continental European Countries that opposed the war in Iraq pretty much said that it was the Coalition that went in and it was the Coalition's responsibility to sort it out, otherwise most countries that supported the coalition and were prepared to commit forces had already done so.

It also was vital to keep out countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and many others in the region because of identifications they might have with a particular group inside Iraq actually inflaming divisions and Turkey of course is viewed with great suspiscion (and with a great deal of justification) by Iraqi Kurds.

The war was right though - an evil regime was removed (There was no prospect of improvement in Iraq when it remained in place and the opposition groups couldn't remove it); the new authorities don't spend 15% of GDP on the Armed Forces, don't build giant statues to the leader or vast palaces for a small elite, the massacres of the Marsh Arabs have been ended and there has even been a fair amount of regeneration of the southern marshes - an ecosystem thousands of years old that had been being drained to destruction over a matter of years.

If the regime hadn't been removed then the regime would still be in power, the marshes would have been destroyed, the games with weapons inspectors would be continuing (despite the regime being required under the Ceasefire Agreement and various UN Sanctions to cooperate unconditionally), sanctions, periodic bombing of Iraqi military facilities and the regime squandering money and indeed missiles that the regime was banned from having under the Ceasefire Treaty and UN Resolutions were at dispute with weapons inspectors and further banned missiles were used by the regime during the war and banned new aircraft were found hidden in the desert and previously unknown missiles with a range of over 150km and new guidance systems in development found by weapons inspectors who went in after the war - the regime was just waiting for International attention to switch away somewhere else allowing them to resume their nuclear program probably with atomic warheads for their new improved missiles, Iran is militarily far stronger but the Iraqi Ba'athist regime was far more casual in it's disregard for it's neighbours.

At last a new government in Iraq is being formed that has taken into accounts opinions from Kurds (Sunni or Shia) and from Sunni Arabs and Shia Arabs that has good prospects of broad support.

Interesting to hear Lord Heseltine on 'Any Questions?' last night being very unsure as to the wisdom of withdrawing troops. Heseltine - an opponent of the war from day one - seemed to be offering a much more cautious view than Mr Ancram. Another opponent of the war - Douglas Hogg MP - was in yesterday's Mai saying that troop withdrawals would be wrong.

>>>>Heseltine - an opponent of the war from day one - seemed to be offering a much more cautious view than Mr Ancram.<<<<
It was something that split the Lib. Dem. leadership candidates with Meinzes Campbell taking a realistic view that apart from the fact that all UK forces couldn't simply get on a plane and fly out in a short space of time because there weren't the logistical facilities to fly them all out at short notice, equally he was realistic that despite his own opposition to the war that he believed that to pull the troops out at short notice or to a fixed timetable would be probably to allow Iraq to fall into a Civil War situation as the new Iraqi Authority was not yet strong enough to police and defend the country itself yet and indeed that it consists of a government elected by the Iraqi people not chosen by the White House as many still seem to believe and that government is requesting support.

Equally there are even some people who supported war who seem to take the view that the only aim should have been to go in and destroy the regime and then simply march out again leaving it in a Civil War situation.

In fact whereas Iraqi Nationalist insurgent groups opposed the first set of elections, on the BBC2 Programme on the Insurgents it appeared that they saw no alternative but for Iraqi's to vote in the 2nd elections and were actually guarding the polling booths the 2nd time around in many places and that they saw the main threat as being incoming elements from Saudi Arabia and Jordan who were linked to Al Qaeda as being the main problem because Al Qaeda believe that the armed struggle is the future of Iraq and the rest of the region and don't accept any other suggestion of how things can be progressed in Iraq and want a war on people they see as infidels inside Iraq which is something that most Iraqi Nationalists don't want.

William Hague, just interviewed on Radio 4's Westminster Hour, made it clear that he disagreed with Michael Ancram's new position.

Editor, I am not surprised. It is more significant that Ancram was a prominent Cameron supporter. He has been critical of Dave and is opposing party policy. The key question is what is Ancram's real agenda?

"It is more significant that Ancram was a prominent Cameron supporter. He has been critical of Dave and is opposing party policy. The key question is what is Ancram's real agenda?"

Didn't he originally support Malcolm Rifkind. Rifkind, perhaps coincidentally, was against the Iraq War.

It is more significant that Ancram was a prominent Cameron supporter.

After he failed to garner the suppot necessary for his own leadership bid.

Didn't he originally support Malcolm Rifkind. Rifkind, perhaps coincidentally, was against the Iraq War.

That probably was co-incidental. The reason he gave for supporting Rifkind was that he didn't want an old colleague humiliated with a low level of support.

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