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"Victory in Iraq"? What is that supposed to mean? We removed Saddam, and the "war" ended a long time ago. We achieved victory. We are now reaping the results of having stayed too long and consequently being in the middle of an entirely different sunni versus shia civil war: and a civil war in which both sides now hate us, but the sunni hate us more, as we removed Saddam, their henchman.

In the current situation: a guerilla war with no clear boundaries, and fought through terrorism, is no more likely to be "won" through military force than the war in Northern Ireland was. "Victory" in Northern Ireland was impossible with military means; the same is the case with Iraq. We need to withdraw in an orderly manner and remove our aggravating influence.

We cannopt afford to withdraw Tam until the Iraqi security forces are strong enough to defend Iraq. If we withdraw sooner than then there must be a real danger that we will have created a new Taliban-style Afghanistan and the operational centre for future 9/11 attacks.

"... an additional 50,000 troops could secure the Iraqi capital. Once that is accomplished, clear and hold operations could expand outward toward the areas of the Sunni insurgency."

This is not like driving the Germans out of Paris, and having secured Paris then moving on to clear and hold the rest of northern France. Once the Germans in Paris had been dealt with, there was little prospect that other Germans would then infiltrate back into Paris when the bulk of the Allied forces had moved on.

In this case, when the US forces started to expand outwards from Baghdad there would be every likelihood of a counter-flow of insurgents back into Baghdad. If it needs 50,000 extra troops just to secure the capital, surely it would take a lot more than that to simultaneously secure the whole of Iraq and control its borders.

I think it's time to stop the self-deception and take a realistic view. Either the US government must be prepared to massively increase the number of troops, and commit them far beyond the next year or two, or they should admit defeat. The UK, of course, will follow the US lead in either direction, insofar as we have any troops left to send, and any equipment available for them.

Well its obvious why Cameron and Brown aren't saying anything about Iraq, it would be total madness for them to stake out a position when America's position is so fluid.

It strikes me as almost delusional to seriously suggest an increase in troop numbers. No candidate at the 2008 elections, even McCain, will go in proposing that if they want to win.

We already have "a cabinet minister dedicated to homeland security" - his title is "Home Secretary". He's useless, just like his predecessors and now the whole of his department, largely because his party wants the supposed "block vote" of British Muslims and therefore is still willing to pander to Islamic extremists.

Small puzzle. Why doesn't Cameron have his own shadow terrorism minister, Patrick Mercer, in the shadow cabinet then? Shurely not more hot air?

Wicks: "No candidate at the 2008 elections, even McCain, will go in proposing that if they want to win."

By "win" you mean, of course, the US election don't you Wicks? That's the trouble with most politicians and most visitors to this site. Short-termist politicians only want to win elections even if that means losing the war on terror which is what exiting Iraq would accelerate.

I wish the neocons would just shut up. If you want to hear sense on Iraq, listen to people like General Dannatt.

>>Homeland security depends upon victory in Iraq<<

Oh right. Looks like we're not going to get paper bag quality protection then.

>>Homeland security depends upon victory in Iraq<<

Homeland security depends on recognising our complete and utter failure in Iraq, and then withdrawing to minimise further losses. The idea that the security of the realm is under threat because of a single terrorist attack last July is nonsense, and shows how paranoid the Iraq war "hawks" truly are.

"if that means losing the war on terror which is what exiting Iraq would accelerate."

Sir, you are talking out your backside. Dunkirk didn't see us lose the second world war, Iraq will not see us lose the war on terror. It is time we faced reality, the biggest threat today is from within the country, not outside it. It's time to stop with these infantile foreign excursions and deal with the problems at home.

Umbrella Man:

"By "win" you mean, of course, the US election don't you Wicks? That's the trouble with most politicians and most visitors to this site. Short-termist politicians only want to win elections even if that means losing the war on terror which is what exiting Iraq would accelerate."

Blame Bush and his allies for that. They have screwed up in Iraq so much that its untenable for anyone to follow their policy of reforming these nations in the short to medium term.

Policing the borders of an island like ours is a complete non starter. We need ID cards so that we can record people within the UK. If you needed an ID card to withdraw money from a bank or claim benefits or housing or NHS care then infiltration by terrorists would be much more difficult. I have never agreed with Brown before - it is an unnerving experience.

Jonathan, I have a very simple question, how would ID cards have stopped 7/7 and 21/7?

Very good article in today's Chicago Sun-Times by Mark Steyn. Here are two key quotations:

"What does it mean when the world's hyperpower, responsible for 40 percent of the planet's military spending, decides that it cannot withstand a guerrilla war with historically low casualties against a ragbag of local insurgents and imported terrorists?"

"Whatever it started out as, Iraq is a test of American seriousness. And, if the Great Satan can't win in Vietnam or Iraq, where can it win? That's how China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela and a whole lot of others look at it. "These Colors Don't Run" is a fine T-shirt slogan, but in reality these colors have spent 40 years running from the jungles of Southeast Asia, the helicopters in the Persian desert, the streets of Mogadishu. ... To add the sands of Mesopotamia to the list will be an act of weakness from which America will never recover.'

Full article here.

William Hague has cast doubt on the James Baker plan for involving nations once thought to be in the 'axis of evil' in a security plan for Iraq:

"Hopes of involving Iran and Syria in developing a new policy for ending the violence in Iraq could prove "naive", shadow foreign secretary William Hague warned.

The option of opening talks with the neighbouring states is expected to be discussed by Prime Minister Tony Blair when he gives evidence to a US inquiry on Tuesday.

It is one of two options believed to be under consideration by the Iraq Survey Group being led by former US Secretary of State James Baker.

Mr Hague welcomed the Prime Minister's engagement with the panel, stressing the need for "heavy British involvement" in the reassessment of current thinking. But warned that the involvement of "axis of evil" states was not a short-term option at a time when Iraq was "tipping in the wrong direction"."

More in The Guardian here.

Jonathan @ 14:49 - "Policing the borders of an island like ours is a complete non starter". But I can remember when we used to do it, before we stopped doing it.

Surely nobody, not even George W Bush, thinks now that Iraq has been anything other than totally misconceived disaster. It was a folly and a disgrace that the UK entered this war and a folly and a disgrace that this appalling government was supported in this action by the Conservative Party.

If Cameron wants to make himself REALLY popular he will call for Troops out Now!

I might even vote for him myself.

"Naive" is not a word I would apply to someone as sharp as James Baker III

Here we go again with Mr Brown and Labour advocating ID cards as the answer to protect us all (but as has been pointed out by others, didn't prevent Madrid bombings and wouldn't have prevented 7/7).

It's the difference between left-wing and conservative authoritarianism. The former represses the law abiding and those who do what is right (by such measures as ID cards, and restrictions to freedom of speech), while the latter is tough on the criminal and terrorist.

This headline is utter drivel. Victory , like a managed withdrawl , is entirely beyond us.

Mark Steyn might have a point but he misses one vital fact. The US has already lost in Iraq. There was a time when a real victiry could have been salvaged but that time has long since passed.

ID cards wouldnt but then neither would policing our borders as these were internal traitors.
ID cards (providing there is a central register of biometric data) allow us to ensure that there is one person for each identity and each person can have only one identity. Passport fraud was invented before "The Day of the Jackal" and we still don't have the administration required to stop it. If we have a register of foreigners in this country if they cannot access NHS housing or benefits without having an ID card and a place on the register then they are known to the authorities and their task of blending into some multicultural ghetto becomes enormously more difficult. We simply can't stop them entering, there are too many coves where a sppedboat can land but we can make it far more difficult for them to stay while they plot treason.
There is no point in wasting the money on borders which cannot be effectively policed when it could be spent on ID cards which can.

ID cards do not need to be carried as they are only the visible sign of the biometric register. What you would present to gain access to NHS, housing, benefits, schooling or cash from an ATM machine is not an ID card but your fingerprint and a PIN, which would be checked (via the internet) against the register not against a card that could be forged.

Yes we've lost. And it's brought home by the shocking news that four more of our boys have been killed in this pointless, stupid, war on the nation's day of mourning.

The party needs to commit itself to a rapid exit strategy as soon as possible - before Brown beats us to it.

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