Thinking About the British Withdrawl
The big news the past two days is that the British are withdrawing forcing from Iraq. There has been a lot of political back-and-forth about this development, with the White House calling it a “good-news story” and the anti-war movement asking why the British get to leave and the Americans don’t. Obviously this is all very complicated, but I want to focus on a particular quote out of the Washington Post.
Tony Snow, White House Press Secretary, is quoted as saying
The fact that they have made some progress on the ground is going to enable them to move some of the forces out, and that’s ultimately the kind of thing that we want to be able to see throughout Iraq.
The paragraph right before the quote, which is not sourced, reads
The White House argued that comparing the British situation in Basra and the U.S. position in Baghdad fundamentally distorts reality. The south, where the British have been in charge, has no Sunni insurgency and far less violence than Baghdad or Anbar.
Anyone else find that very interesting?
Why is the one populated area where the British forces are most concentrated the one populated area where there is “no insurgency and far less violence?” Strikes me as there are two critical differences between the areas: the occupier and the occupied. But do we really think there is some great difference between the Iraqis in Baghdad and the Iraqis in Basra? Or, could it be that the demoralizing events of Abu Ghraib and the slow response to the evolving situation by the American military leadership have engendered such ill-will towards the U.S. that our troops are simply incapable of being effective in the way the British troops have been?
I am reading a book on Iraq right now, and I’m learning a lot of interesting things about the situation… but at the moment I am far from an expert. But the one thing that bother me vary much are claims from the right about how we must stay in Iraq in order to win the fight… but what if it’s not possible to win the fight? What if the window where all the troop increases in the world has already passed? To use a poker analogy, you don’t stay in the game when all your holding is pocket 4s and the flop came down all face cards. Sure, you can try and bluff your way out… but this is international warfare against a player with nothing to lose. It’s true, if you fold you cannot win… but this is not the ideal time to be bluffing.