Friday, December 19. 2008
Posted by Kyle Atwell in Transatlantic Relations on Friday, December 19. 2008
In an anticipated move, Gordon Brown announced that the remaining 4,100 UK troops will leave Iraq by the end of July. Mr. Brown is quoted by the BBC:
I feel that the task that we set out to do is being done and that's why we can take a decision to bring most of our forces home.The Times Online is less cheery, characterizing Britain’s withdrawal as “a humiliating proposal that lumps the once-valued deployment with five smaller contingents, including those of Romania, El Salvador and Estonia.”
Is it fair to call Britain's withdrawal shameful? The British contribution to Iraq and Afghanistan has been disproportionately large compared to most countries and there have not been complaints from the US or other Allies about British withdrawal. However, Seumas Milne argues in the Guardian that it is shameful both that Britain ever entered the war, and just how much of a mess the country is being left in now.
It is speculated that British drawdowns from Iraq may at least partially lead to increases in Afghanistan. Partially should be emphasized as the UK Chief of the Defense Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, has done explicitly (BBC):
"Our top priority is to deliver success, military success in both theatres (Iraq and Afghanistan), but equally I've said for a very long time that the British armed forces are stretched," he said.While there will not be a one to one transfer of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, Gordon Brown has already confirmed an additional 300 troops will be sent to Afghanistan in March, bringing the total UK contribution to 8,300. The Press Association reports that Brown, “insisted other countries also needed to play their part in the Nato-led campaign” as well.
The United States will reportedly send 3,000 fresh troops to Kabul in January. Jon Hemming at News Daily speculates that further 2009 US deployments to Afghanistan will likely bolster Canada, the UK and the Dutch as they combat the Taliban in the restive south.
Gordon Brown is not alone in asking for more Allied contributions to Afghanistan; US Defense Secretary Gates is once again calling on ISAF participants to increase commitments, reports Reuters:
At a town hall-style meeting with U.S. troops in a large tent on the base, Gates renewed criticism of other NATO nations for not providing more troops and other resources to Afghanistan.Europe may have around 2.5 million soldiers, sure, but how many of them are deployable? According to Julianne Smith of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), only about 3 to 5 percent of European forces are expeditionary. The fact is, NATO is becoming a multi-tiered alliance (well, always has been, but in the post-Cold War world where Allied soldiers are actually on the ground getting shot at, it has become more sensitive) -- some countries are over-stretching their forces (Britain for example), while others are apparently partying like its Oktoberfest.
Brown and Gates should expect no miracle contributions anytime soon for Afghanistan, where violence in 2008 has been the worst since the US-led invasion began in 2001. In fact, NATO’s military commander openly states that the US will provide most future troops for Afghanistan (Bloomberg):
The U.S. will supply the bulk of additional NATO troops for the war in Afghanistan, with only smaller-scale reinforcements coming from European allies, the alliance’s supreme military commander said.There is a ray of light for Afghanistan as Lieutenant General Jim Dutton, deputy commander of ISAF, anticipates things in Afghanistan will improve in 2009 due in large part to Obama making Afghanistan a top priority (AFP):
Lieutenant General Jim Dutton, deputy commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said plans to boost the Afghan army and police force and increase the number of foreign troops would turn things around.Also see from Atlantic Review:
* What will Britain do when Obama asks for more troops?
* Is Europe "Ready to be Obama stakeholders, not free-riders?"
* What if President Obama asks for German combat troops?
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Joe Noory - #1 - 2008-12-20 16:31 -
For the Guardian writers and readership, the UK MUST leave in shame. It's kabuki to them. Basra isn't exactly a success nor is it a complete shambles, but I wouldn't give that paper any credence. To illustrate this stance, look at how the recent departure of Korean troops from Iraq was covered. The reportage did backflips to dictate what it meant that they were going home, when in fact they were going home having done a fantastic job. They also omitted one basic fact that might put the reconstruction in a good light: out of the 18 000 personnel they sent, they lost one, something that's statistically much less of a chance of loss than one would find among citizens in a stable, law-abiding society. To ideologize the news, and do ones' best to NOT report NEWS, a fact like that must be buried, which is why the likes of the Guardian and the NYT are not really news organization - they're party-political organs.
Pamela - #2 - 2008-12-20 17:33 -
I'm reading very conflicting reports. Re: Iraq, that Malaki got so disgusted with the Brits and their stand down at Basra that he just wanted them out period. But other reports I've read said that the retreat to their bases was the result of a deal they cut with the locals. Then there's Gordon Brown's bluster about how they're leaving because they've done what they came to do. Who knows how much the economy has to do with this - certainly the MoD never allocated the money to get them equipment that would keep them safe. Re: Afghanistan, I've read that the Brits who are in charge of Helmland province are in trouble and may need U.S. backup. Then I read that two SAS 'brigades' (I suspect the wrong term was used there) are being sent in to hunt down the Taliban - in other words, they'll be putting boots on the ground in Pakistan. I have contacts in the U.S. military so I can usually cut thru the media fog on those issues, but anything about the Brits I'm quite confused about.
Pat Patterson - #3 - 2008-12-20 19:18 -
Pamela-That would be almost 10,000 men on paper so definitly a typo of some kind. I saw two conflicting reports in that it was mentioned that two more companies of SAS were being sent in after withdrawing from Iraq and another report that says the entire Marine Brigade the entire Brigade of Gurkhas was being transferred to Afghanistan. The latter story makes more sense except in the acknowledgement that the British Army has not yet found the right tactical mix and equipment that will succeed and avoid the kinds of casualties that feed disengagement feeling at home. The truly sad part is that the British rely almost exclusively on others for air transport or attack. There are more helicopters patrolling the motorways of the Thames Valley then Britain has in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Pamela - #4 - 2008-12-22 09:27 -
Kyle - #4.1 - 2008-12-23 00:17 -
Pamela - #4.1.1 - 2008-12-23 15:06 -
heh. I deliberately left that part out - seemed a bit self-serving. A really good source who should not be missed is Michael Yon - he is a self-financed, free lancer who embeds with the troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan (I believe he was once Specail Forces himself, but I could be mistaken about that.) http://www.michaelyon-online.com/
Pamela - #5 - 2008-12-22 09:57 -
Pamela - #6 - 2008-12-25 13:53 -
Merry Christmas everyone! Now I'm off to get drunk..............
Don S - #7 - 2008-12-26 00:30 -
Happy hangover, Pamela.
Marie Claude - #8 - 2008-12-26 01:14 -
eh be ! Tony adds in the soup !!!! woah, what's gonna denkt Angela ? http://www.time.com/time/specials/2008/personoftheyear/article/0,31682,1861543_1865103_1866541,00.html
Alfred E Neumann - #8.1 - 2008-12-26 15:21 -
Ah, Marie, that was interesting, no? But perhaps unsurprising. Blair and Sarko have a lot of mutual regard. I have mixed feelings about Time's Man of the Year award this year. I think the real Man of the Year may have been Putin, but they gave him the award a year too early! So they could not repeat it. I think they may have done it again this year by awarding it to Barack Obama. Not that it's undeserved exactly, but because in a sense he has really done nothing yet compared to what is possible and perhaps necessary. Yes, for a man of mixed race to claw his way to the top of the 'greasy pole' is a massive achievement in so-called 'racist' America, but in another sense he has not really begun. I think Sarko would have been a worthy recipient this year, although so is Obama. Or Putin, if they could have given it to him. In a negative way, of course, but the Man of the Year award is not the Nobel Peace Prize - it does not measure worthyness but whom is consequential.
Marie Claude - #9 - 2008-12-26 21:22 -
well I would have rather chosen Saakashvili : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBh9D2WIGsE We know, now, that he is a good character :lol: "Yes, for a man of mixed race to claw his way to the top of the 'greasy pole' is a massive achievement in so-called 'racist' America" um, precisely, he was elected because of the "race" ticket, and of big man footprint al Gore's business and collateral financers as far as Sarko's selection, we can't deny that the Anglo-Saxons still focus on France, Sarko was their choice long time ago, before we elected him, like someone they would have like for their own, they would rather give away Obama to us, except that he doesn't fit our criteriums for freedom from religion interference, seems that the Farrakan's, ain't not tolerant either, neither the warren's, kinda too evangelical (a left perspective of the DC evangelical business) I think no matter who's elected, the things are lead above their heads
Alfred E Neumann - #9.1 - 2008-12-28 00:08 -
Saakashvili? Nahhhh, you're crazy. He's not important at all.
Marie Claude - #9.1.1 - 2009-01-03 16:45 -
of course he isn't :lol: but Sarko is still the "true" one, cuz, he is flamed by our german friends (ie german community), for me it's a sign, thus he is on the good path :lol: he is also flamed by our israeli friends, (um, Gaza trip was too heavy !!!) and therefore by our american friends !!!! vive Sarko, vive la France , happy new year everyone from Portugal
John in Michigan, USA - #9.2 - 2009-01-05 02:56 -
Obama "was elected because of...big man footprint al Gore's business and collateral financers"?? As far as I know, the only role that Al Gore had was to select Obama for an important speech at the Democratic convention in 2004. That gave Obama his first major national audience, and took Obama's books out of obscurity, therefore making Obama a personal millionaire even before Obama started his political fundraising. It seems to me, Gore's did this one, very important thing for Obama, but it was only one thing. Obama's fundraising power cannot be attributed to the Al Gore machine, which was mostly the Clinton machine in 2004. Obama's real breakthrough was to win the support of Soros and his ilk, which he mostly did on his own. If Al Gore had been more important to Obama, Gore (or one of his minions) would have gotten some major position in the Obama administration, wouldn't you think? But maybe you have information about Gore that I do not have? What, other than the 2004 speech, makes Al Gore important to Obama? Why is Al Gore being so far ignored in the Obama administration?
john phillips - #10 - 2009-02-20 08:48 -
I do object to this article that says British troops are leaving in shame. Perhaps the journalist who wrote these words should enlist for service in the Middle East and take some of the `stick`. The Americans started this war, now let them finish it or get out The cash being spent on warfare would be better spent on the British public at home, who Brown has reduced to poverty level during his time as chancellor of the exchequer.
John in Michigan, USA - #10.1 - 2009-02-23 18:55 -
Actually, Mr. Phillips, Saddam broke the peace (such as there was) in the region in 1990. Saddam's war was put on pause in 1991 via a cease-fire. Saddam violated the spirit of this agreement almost immediately, when he used helicopters which were allowed to transport aid, to instead commit still more mass murder of civilians. He violated the letter of the agreement in 1994 when he re-occupied some Kuiwait territory. He also never paid reparations nor repatriated jailed Kuwaiti citizens, as required. President Clinton technically violated the cease fire in 1998, when he bombed government buildings in Baghdad, although arguably that was a moot point due to Saddam's repeated violations. Granted, President Bush did escalate the war beyond the level seen in 1991-2003, but he most certainly did not start the war. And, with the success of the surge, plus the recent SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement), he has essentially finished it, as you demanded. Will you give him credit? Some Iraqis will tell you that "things weren't so bad under Saddam" but when you press them for specifics, you quickly realize 1) they are Baathists or other regime loyalists who did benefit under Saddam, at the cost of their fellow Iraqis, and 2) those few moments when Iraq as a whole was genuinely better off refer to what some consider the "salad days" before the war with Iran in the 80's, or during a brief period between the Iran-Iraq war and the Gulf War.
Pat Patterson - #10.1.1 - 2009-02-24 00:58 -
Mr Philips also ignored that since the precipitous drop in the number of subjects in the UK when Mrs Thatcher was elected the level has essentially varied little from 14% of those only making 60% of what is considered the minimum to live in the UK. So exactly when was this great reducing to poverty claimed to have happened?
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