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I am afraid Mr Fox is deluded as usual. If civilised nations dealing with terrorists invites more terrorism than how can he explain Northern Ireland. We dealt with terrorists there and its been successful.
When will the deluded Mr Fox relise at the end of the day most disputes and wars are settled by the parties concerned talking they are not settled by the barrel of a gun.

Jack Stone obviously hasn't bothered to read the press reports. As usual he's ill-informed.

This is shameful. British honour was besmirched and we stood aside while the Iraqis and the Americans sorted out a nest of vipers. From the Times report it would seem that the Secretary of State for Defence himself was involved. Maybe that day he was too busy being Secretary of State for Scotland.

Liam Fox goes up in my estimation by the day .

Why do our dirty luandry in public,i don't like all this gesturing and hubris,with our forces still taking bullets for our counrty these thing should be discussed in private and not on a bloody public forum which the whole world can read for crist sake.

I wonder what is the truth of the matter? Was this a political decision or was it taken by the military. If it was the latter it's shameful. If the decision was taken by Browne he should be fired immediately.
Doesn't change my view that British troops are achieving nothing in Iraq and should be withdrawn and sent to where they are needed in Afghanistan.
Jack, even by your lamentable standards you've surpassed yourself today!

Agree with Gnosis. Nor is the Times article necessarily entirely accurate in the impression it gives because some British troops were perhaps embedded in the ISF?

"Dear Des" just abouts sums up Fox's pitiful tenor. Dear Secretary of State perhaps? Maybe even a Mr Browne? God knows anything would be better than the buttock-clenching inanity of "Dear Des", but then I suppose it's such a wonderfully elegant précis of the twaddle to come.

We are *quitting* Iraq, and quite rightly too. We are disengaging with the minimum inconvenience to ourselves, and out of the goodness of our hearts, to the corrupt, ungrateful, incompetent regime in Baghdad that doesn't want us there anyway. Why exactly should we needlessly waste the life of one more British soldier in pursuit of the lie that British involvement in the war in Iraq was ever in our national interest? Well done us for our slow but steady departure from this grisly, pointless quagmire.

The solitary "outrageous" thing about any of this is that Liam Fox is so staggeringly dense as to believe that the British armed forces have even one "responsibility" to the sodding Iraqi people. If anyone still is silly enough to wonder why the Right could never bring itself to coalesce round this inadequate, look no further than this half-witted letter.

What a horrible, pompous person you are ACT. Your comments on here are always full of hate.

If it looks like appeasement, smells like appeasement, feels like appeasement then it is appeasement.

Terrorists will know that if you bomb Britain enough we'll give in.

It's delusional to believe that we can give in to terror abroad and it won't come to haunt us in the UK.

Malcolm Dunn at 17:36 - The prees report says Des Browne's permission was needed to do anything in Basra, Liam Fox has directly asked him that. Meanwhile the Iraqi officers say the British can't be relied on whereas the Americans can.

ACT @1803 - Fox's letter is there to read if you want it. You miss the point that the British are allies of the Iraqi army and they let down their allies. Shameful. Or doesn't betrayal mean anything any more - because we betrayed our Iraqi allies

They are not out allies: who or what do you suppose we're allied with them against? The Iranian factions half of them belong to? Their *freely elected* government has said they want us out. If we went in there to help give them the great boon of being able to democratically take their own political decisions, fine, let's listen to them. Let's get out and not look backwards even once. Iraq is now their sovereign responsibility, fault and fate. To repeat: nitwits like Fox might want to pointlessly lay down a few more British lives to secure, or not, one of the most corrupt governments in the world. I've glad our government doesn't, and isn't going to for very much longer. Thank God neither Fox nor the blogging chickenhawks have even an ounce of responsibility for the lives of British servicemen.

ACT - The nitwits in this case were very active around 1855. (hrs today)

We are allies of the Iraqi government which we sponsored and whose army we trained. We shamefully made a pact with the militias who are sponsored by the Iraniansd who are busily arming the Hizbollah in Lebanon and the Tealeban in Afghanistan and these militias too. They are also well on the way to getting nuclear weapons with which they say they will eliminate Israel. They will then dominate the Middle East.

The Iraqi government has NOT told us to go. They want us to go in a planned and orderly manner sometime next year.

Your views are as shameful and inaccurate as those of Jack Stone who started this thread off. You believe in breaking solemn agreements.

I must admit, it's taken me a while to calm down before I write this. For the past few hours after reading the stories on the Times' website and other sources I felt so angry and upset. I was angry for many reasons:

1. If the story is true, it is a most gross and horrendous betrayal of our troops by a government concerned with headlines and opinion polls. This only undermines the hard work that our armed services have undertaken over the years in Iraq, and embarrasses the MoD terribly.

2. The comments left by Britons and Americans alike in the comments section really riled me. Branding our troops 'cowards' and 'spineless' is by far the biggest betrayal of those who have died and those who risk their lives. I was appalled by all those who took it upon themselves to so viscously criticise our troops from the comfort of their armchair. They should be eternally ashamed of themselves.

3. Such stories, true or otherwise, only serve to divide us. A great shame of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is that it has battered and bruised the special relationship and the high standard of international diplomacy we once had. For our servicemen and servicewomen, the price has been huge and then we hit them with stories like this. I'm not asking for censorship at all, that would be crazy. However, the media should always try to deal with such issues sensitively. We have very few allies left, we can't afford to lose our closest.

Every generation of my family has been in the armed forces from the Royal Marines to the Army and Navy. My parents, my Grandpa and Great Grandparents and many Uncles. The torch is carried on by my cousin who recently joined the Army and of whom we are all very very proud.

I am sick to the back teeth of non-patriots who will believe any lie about Britain, her government and her armed forces that any foreign country chooses to plant with The Times. You want to believe the anti-British garbage that Murdoch's rag runs, go right ahead. I'm quite happy putting Britain and her interests before those Rupert Murdoch tells us to have. I feel reasonably confident that a majority of the public likewise trust the word of officers in our own army above that of employees of News International. Pick your side: I'll take British soliders, you've can have the Murdoch smearers.

BTW Keir, our post crossed, and mine very much was *not* a response to yours (the drift of which I tend to agree with).

ACT - I agree with what you said @2210, believing stories such as this without swallowing a large mug of salt is foolhardy. My frustration is directed at the point that such as story was published anyway, regardless of factual accuracy, and the reaction of a lot of the people on blogs and commentaries. Some people seem to go too far into personal mudslinging, completely disregarding factual accuracy themselves. Take this guy for example:

"It was well known by Coalition Forces, the Iraqi Army, and everyone on the street that British Forces in Basra were simply targets. The Brits were spinless whimps, long before the instance in the article occured. Emphathy to the Troops: court martial for the Officers responsible. Yes, I was there.

Arthur, Chicago, USA

I guess I took it a little personally myself. The last paragraph of my previous statement comes across as trying to gain sympathy. It wasn't at all - I was trying to show the angle of which I was viewing this story from. I'm sure you can understand my frustration - I'm positive that the majority of Brits and Americans feel pretty much the same way at this. It's such a shame that people can be so blind to reality as to risk friendships over nothing. Besides, the battle in question was supported by British artillery and air power.

I find it utterly bizarre that anyone can even begin to believe an unocorroborated report in a newspaper, given the more general awareness that much of what the media offers is often wholly inaccurate on a wide range of issues.

Furthermore, this report is from a newspaper which got it comprehnsively wrong at the time, and which did not even have a reporter in the area, relying on journalists in London and New York for its narrative.

Throughout, the media constantly misrepresented the in March, against which track record there is every good reason for being more than usually sceptical about reports coming out about events nearly five months ago, representing a complex, politically charged situation.

Duff link ... could you sort it for me please?

Both ACT, who couldn't see the danger of Iranian backing for the militias, and to a lesser extent Keir are getting angry about the wrong thing. The story - backed by named officers Iraqi, American and British, point to a deal having been struck that British troops would keep out of Basra. This may have been negotiated by officers on the spot or it may have political input. The story in the Times - and elsewhere incidentally - was that it needed MoD clearance and specifically that of our (part-time) Defence Secretary before troops could go in. The iraqi army knew of this so turned to the Americans.

Liam Fox asked all the right questions and tonight the MoD has saoid there was no deal. Unfortunately for ones belief in either the MoD or Des Browne, Newsnight had a clip of the local British General (Rollo?) last December saying there WAS an 'accommodation" (=deal? no?)

Nobody is saying that the troops would not have gone in or done their job. Indeed those actually there were frustrated at being sidelined for so long.

It is suggested that Des Browne betrayed our allies by denying them the help that they needed.

Let's not have stories of relatives who fought. Many did - even I was in one field where I was very specifically the subject of hostile fire! I do know how the army thinks - or should I say 'thought'

If anyone doubts the courage and dedication of the British Forces in Iraq they should read in Foreign Fields by Dan Collins. The book enumerates the many acts of bravery and humanity of our soldiers and airmen. The Rules of Engagement by Tim Collins (subsequently scandalously treated by the politically inspired) is another good read. Once again the book includes the steps taken By Tim Collins to save not only British lives, but also Iraqis, some of whom were enemies or potential enemies.

I agree with Richard North: I would not put too much trust in the account by the media and I have never thought that the Lefties at the BBC were a friends of the Armed Services. Strange how the BBC is now so gung ho?

I have every confidence in the army's decision to retire to the airfield. When all is said and done, it was always understood that the Iraqi Army must eventually be the protectors of Iraq. In assisting in the training in Basra of that army the results show that the British have helped to do a good job. Armchair generals ? - we have too many of 'em. As they say in the army - "get some in" (meaning active service).

Perhaps an even more explosive story is the one just releasd in the USA that our top spy was sent by Blair about 3 months before the War to say that the latest evidence was that Saddam had indeed abandoned his search fo nuclear weapons and had wound down his chemical and biological weapons as well.The reoprt was that he had no weapons of mass destruction. If this is all true then the deceit practised on the British people by Tony Blair gets ever more horrendous. He must have knowingly lied to Parliament big time.Up to now Blair has always been able to claim that the whole Intelligence community held the view that Saddam did indeed have weapons of mass destruction. Having this info what on earth was Blair doing trying to get the UN to pass that 2nd resolution for war on the basis that Saddam had not complied with previous resolutions to abandon his mass destruction weapons programme?

It seems that Cheney did not want to know and the report was deliberately buried.


Lets get clear about a few points. (I had the honour to serve the Queen for 18yrs.)

1. This govt. has been running a war on two fronts with a peace-time establishment and funding. Ignore the tractor-factory figures, Those enormous sums of money are being used to bribe the ship-workers in Scotland, and to maintain the politically essential strategic deterrent.
3. The Basra garrison had been so reduced that, on the numbers of troops in Basra released by this govt, I judge that it was barely able to defend itself.
4. I suspect that given the refusal of this govt. to provide the money needed to enable the military to carry out the Govt's stated policy, all available munitions had been moved to Afghanistan, leaving the Basra garrison incapable of cooperating in Op. Charge of the Knights, to any great extent.
5. In this Govt's dealings with Irish Terrorists, the tactic of "what do I have to give you to stop you hitting me ". was used. Only the sea-change in US public opinion after 9/11 brought the IRA to the conference table. It would be in keeping with the known actions of this Govt, that a similar deal would be brokered with terrorists in Basra.
6. The increasing resistance to Govt. handling of the situation has resulted in political interference in the normal system of promotion and postings, as an attempt to control the publication of legitimate concerns of the Military which are being ignored by the Govt.

8. In the days of "Sleepy Fred", Labour defence policy was down to ignorance and incompetence. Under this unspeakable regime, not only ignorance and incompetence, but also deliberate malice towards those who believe enough in this Nation to put themselves in harm's way, have been the guiding qualities of Defence Policy.

I agree with you GOM. I still wonder what is the real truth as I'm suprised that no serving officers from the Basra garrison have been quoted (anonymously)as yet. I'm afraid I'm quite sceptical as to how the Times got this story and a denial from the MOD is now no longer worth the paper it's written on.

IF a deal was struck, it was done so given the very unclear political mandate to the British Forces in Basra. NuLab have been very unsure of their post-war position in Iraq: an army of occupation, or one of re-building/re-training. Indeed, given the unpopularity of Gulf 2, the spin, lies and deception used by B-Liar to get us involved, the need to minimise casualties, it's perhaps not surprising that local force commanders went for an option that saved lives, whilst handing control over to the local war-lords, who had the greater fire-power and the will/commitment to oppose and face up to the occupying British Army.
Field Commanders need very clear and unequivocal orders; that can only emanate from equivocating politicians, who have one eye to Human Rights, UN/ICC and the need to have a scapegoat, whilst not wishing to alienate voters and achieve results. A paradigm for disaster.

Whatever the reasons stated by the government to justify our presence in Iraq, surely the main one is that an unstable Middle East (and how unstable would a widespread war be, involving as it might Israel, Iran, Iraq, Syria and who else?) would see the destruction of our economy as long as it remains oil-based.
The Bush/Blair judgement appears to have been that removing Saddam would eliminate the latest flashpoint. Having done so there ought to have been an effective post-war strategy for restoring order. Well there wasn`t and our armed forces are still there trying, with one hand tied behind their backs, to invent one. The overall direction is, and must remain, political. The politicians must will the means for the military to achieve their statement of our national aims. They have manifestly failed to do so because they believe that to remain in office, they need continuously to bribe the electorate with an over-blown social state.
I think its a bit rich to start chucking bricks at our soldiers (plenty of people already doing that in the Middle East) when all they are trying to do is save a government "policy" that is obscure, ill-thought out and doomed unless there is a sharp chamge in priorities.
It`s easy enough to get into these scapes but very difficult to get out of them. Please remember that if we cut and run, we must be prepared to deal with the consequences for our economy as well as for regional stability.

There's a lot of sense in what John says, but as ever - to the, 'we have to be there to ensure they sell us their oil' argument - what are they (the Arab dictatorships, and, the Pristine Iraqi democracy we and the Americans have so ably crafted) going to do? Not sell it to us? They'd get royally bored of that real soon.

It`s not a matter of whether they sell their oil to us or not. It`s a matter of `will it be available to us or anyone else`?
Do you remember the pall of black smoke over Kuwait at the beginning of Gulf War One? Don`t underestimate the purblind willingness of the mullahs, or others of that ilk, to make sure none of it comes our way. And do you think that would mean the Chinese and Indians wouldn`t buy it? It`s time we had a reality check here. International economic competition to eliminate the US, UK and some of the EU will not be slow coming.

If the Chinese, in the manner of a James Bond villain, economically 'eliminated' the West, who exactly would *they* sell all their crud to? Really, for a community of pro-market people, the wisdom of the crowds on CH threads is, by times, astonishingly Colbertian (as in C18th mercantilism, not the amusing telly programme).

Kuwait is a perfect example of what not to fear - after a brief spike, the price of oil collapsed for well over a decade to almost the lowest, inflation-adjusted pitch it has had since replacing coal the dominant global energy source. And that while the Great Tyrant Saddam was left, for most of that period, in power (with the rest of the period being preoccupied with our disastrous, destabilising intervention). And even at an infrastructure level, newspapers like Murdoch's Times proclaimed, after the pictures of the lit Kuwaiti oil heads were broadcast, that they would be out of action 'for a generation'. They were all back on stream within months.

Arab regimes have two choices with their oil: sell it to those who can afford to buy it, or, not. From their point of view, there is zero merit in the latter option.

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