Thursday, February 22, 2007

UK & Denmark Withdrawals From Iraq

There has been precious little value-added analysis about the announcements by England and Denmark to withdraw from Iraq. First, let's dispense with the Danes. Were they every really there in the first place? If so, where exactly were they? At any rate, I think we can take their withdrawal promise quite seriously. As serious as the saying, "Jeg er durstig," which is Danish for "Let's get the hell out of here and go drink some Elephant Beer!" Oooh, yeah. The Danes are good as gone.

But the English...I don't trust them, not when it comes to the mid-East. This is the third time in the past century and the seventh or eighth time this past millenium the Brits have withdrawn from there. And they always seem to linger on for a few decades with their withdrawal business, from the Crusades on out. In Iraq, for example, they were withdrawing from 1919 to 1956, when they finally announced their final-final withdrawal by the last ship out pinning up an official communique reading: "Piss on these buggers, you couldn't bloody pay us to come back here."

But here you have the Brits, in Iraq all over again and withdrawing again. It's almost as if they're doomed to stay there, really. And some of them are. You'll notice at least 5,000 are staying on, and only a couple thousand are leaving, rather, planning to leave. So is it withdrawal, or more the aspirations, the eventual phased-in hopes of one? Stay or go, the announcement seems more like an official abdication, a self-permission for a mental vacation. It's like they're saying, "It's not really our problem anymore, is it, Yank?"

Another analyses you won't hear much of, other than denials that the vaunted 49-country "Coalition" unravelling down to 22 countries means anything (Yep! Sound as ever! Hale and hearty is our Coalition.) are the consequences of the UK bugging out of Iraq's southern areas, or as the White House seems to call them, the Stable South. A guest poster over at Pat Lang's blog, Wayne White, provides some good analysis on the consequences of a UK withdrawal. Worth a read a full read, but here's an excerpt:
The south is not as has been portrayed in some upbeat UK and US official comments today. Southern Iraq is a very much troubled region where most localities are dominated by militias (sometimes rival militias), governance (to the extent governance linked to Baghdad exists at all beyond the symbolic in large areas) is tenuous, security forces are in most cases far more loyal to militias (often local, semi-autonomous militia elements) than legal authorities (such as the mayor of Basrah), criminality (including large-scale oil & fuel smuggling) is endemic, and low-level assassinations of the relatively few Sunni Arabs still present there is ongoing. When, late last year, British forces attempted to turn over a major base to the Iraqi military (and more bases are to be left behind as UK forces phase out), it was thoroughly looted.

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