Tuesday, October 02, 2007

UK withdrawal from Iraq

John Major accused Gordon Brown of trivialising military imperatives and playing "politics" with soldiers' lives and Iraq's stability, but the truth seems to be that British military strategists think withdrawl is the least bad option [P.S. 3 Oct: Brown should listen to the military and quit Iraq now]. If, then, Brown is serious about actual withdrawal, it is the Tories who are playing "politics".

"Withdrawal must be accompanied by political dialogue", intoned a Guardian editorial in one of those sweeping phrases that means everything and nothing.

According to a BBC File on 4 feature on the British drawdown in Basra some 80% of the locals they talked to in southern Iraq want the British to stay, and the evidence points to the escalation of a vicious struggle for the control of some 80% of Iraq's oil, and other horrors, following British withdrawal (barring effective intervention by other outside forces).

Western peace activists continue to agitate for an end to the war, by which they mean an end to Western involvement. Their love of humanity and idealism is compelling (in the long run of history and the struggle for human dignity, for example, the protestors at Faslane are surely on the right side). But righteousness needs thought too, and should heed context. Have anti-war protestors really considered the most likely, as opposed to the ideal, consequences of withdrawal for Iraqis? (At least some of the neo-cons and their associates seem only to have thought their ideal scenario was possible.) The chances of the country's oil being equitably shared and wisely applied, as envisaged by The General Union of Oil Employees and their allies, look slim -- not to mention other challenges.

In a photo feature on the extraordinary lives of Iraq's women, Antoinette living in Mosul (obviously a long way from Southern Iraq, and with all kind of different dynamic) says:
I was a very shy child. I used to be terrified of any sound and of the dark. I stammered until late in my teens. Since I became a mother, though, all that has stopped. I will not allow anything, the explosions, the armies or anyone to implant fear in the hearts of my children.
Brave words indeed. Will she be able to honour them, and what can outsiders best do to help?

[P.S 5 Oct: The Oxford Research Group releases a report on Monday 8 Oct titled British involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan “a disaster”.]

No comments: