Wednesday, February 21, 2007

British withdrawal

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here's MSNBC reporting on an important development in the Iraq War:

Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce Wednesday a timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, British media reported.

Why is this significant?

The announcement comes as President Bush implements an increase of 21,000 more troops for Iraq, but while some of the other coalition partners are pulling out: The Italians and Slovaks have left, and the Danes and the South Koreans want to start withdrawing.

Apparently, Bush views this British withdrawal as "a sign of success," and Blair may say that himself in his defence. He is not about to concede anything resembling defeat or failure -- despite or perhaps because of intense opposition to the war at home. But whereas Bush seems utterly delusional, Blair at least seems to be aware of what has gone wrong, and why. Bush still talks of victory, still hopes for success, still sends troops into harm's way in the middle of a civil war. Perhaps Blair finally found the good sense to do what he should have done a long time ago: sever his ties with his "ally" in the White House. Look what Iraq has done to Bush and the Republicans. Look what it's done to Blair personally. This initial withdrawal is coming too late, but it suggests he's had enough.

The BBC article on the British withdrawal is here.

For more on what this could mean for the U.S., see Glenn Greenwald: "Blair's reversal was likely motivated in large part by various domestic political pressures. Still, the fact that President Bush's most steadfast ally has reversed himself in such a public and humiliating way, and announced a clear-cut withdrawal from Iraq on a set timetable, should embolden frightened American Congressional war opponents to move beyond inconsequential and limited non-binding resolutions and begin thinking seriously about how to compel an end to this endlessly destructive occupation."

Democrats, are you paying attention?

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