Monday, 3 December 2007

UK Government to pull troops out of Basra, having failed to make it safe.

The UK are handing over control of Basra to the Iraqui ‘forces’

This sounds OK, on the face of it, but a report to MPs paints a different picture.

It points out that Basra is in fact run by militias and it’s police force contains "murderous" and "corrupt" elements, it also notes that the whole purpose of the UK forces' presence may be in question due to cuts.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the invasion of Iraq, having been part of it, it is surely our moral duty to leave the people of Iraq, at least no worse off as a result of our being there, and preferably in a better situation.

Have we done so? No - Why?

Well the main reason is the insurgency. There are vast amounts of money, arms and often foreign fighters pouring into the country, whose sole purpose is ensure things there never get any better. This is funded and cannon foddered by Islamicists. Some, no doubt, see their financial contribution as charitable. It is promoted and sustained by Iran, Syria and certain elements within Pakistan, not necessarily all for the same reasons.

All this has made the job of the armed forces insanely difficult, but what has made it impossible is much closer to home and lurks in the palace of Westminster. It is the Government.

They have, as they say, overstretched and over committed the limited available forces to the point where, as good as they are, as willing and brave as they might be, there are just not enough of them to get the job done in any one place and they can’t keep up indefinitely with no rest.

There are not enough forces there to do the job and the Government has reduced them on the ground in Iraq because of political expediency. They weren’t too worried about it wen they got into it, now they want to drop the ball and run off the pitch.

There is certainly not enough funding to sustain our forces out there, again because a greedy short sighted government wanted to – and still does – want to, take advantage of the so called and largely illusory ‘peace dividend’. By cutting military funding to the bone. To the extent that vital personal equipment is not available where it needs to be and heavy equipment, even if it is there, is not quite suitable for the job in the environment and not necessarily actually functional.

They should have realised that without the pressure of the cold war superpowers that the potential for medium scale conflicts that demand more, not less, troops would rise. Having the bomb is ok as a deterrent, but is not much use in situations where you can’t use it and it is not a credible threat. Then there is no substitute for plenty of well equipped, highly trained forces.

Although it is said that war is an extension of politics, you can’t play around in a field of conflict like you can in a debate and the consequences of getting it wrong can be much more ‘permanent’ for those who actually have to try to back up the hot air. Being able to talk the talk is worse than useless if you can’t walk the walk too.

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