Thursday, 2 November 2006

Iraq success???????

I sent a letter off to the Evening News last week following a report that British military chiefs were so happy with the ‘success’ of their mission in Iraq that they plan to bring home half the troops by May – I kid you not!
This ‘success’ will come as a surprise to anyone who recalls that more than 120 soldiers have been killed there. It will also come as somewhat of a surprise to hear the illegal occupation of a foreign land described this way so soon after Sir Richard Dannatt the General in charge of the British troops decry the tactics and strategy and presence in Iraq just last week. Dannatt demanded a recognition that the British were hated, losing the battle for hearts and minds and desperately lacked an exit strategy. Well now they have one, namely dress up the campaign so far as a success and get the hell out as quickly as possible.

Letter published in Edinburgh Evening News
Bring the troops in Iraq back home
THE report in Evening News quoting military chiefs claiming British troop operations had been such a success that half the soldiers stationed there could be home early next year almost made me laugh. I say almost because this is Iraq and there is nothing funny about the deadly failure of British military and political policy there.
If there is talk in the Ministry of Defence about withdrawing the troops - and I expect they are discussing little else - then let us not insult the intelligence of the Scottish public by falling for government propaganda. The situation in Iraq is, as the head of the army General Sir Richard Dannatt admitted, a complete disaster.
Anyone who heard John Humphries reports from Basra this week on Radio Four will surely understand how hated and despised the US and UK troops now are in the eyes of the Iraqi people. Basra was supposed to be in the "safe south" of Iraq, well away from Baghdad and the treacherous "Sunni triangle". But now Humphries - himself hardly an arch-critic of government policy these last four years - reveals that British troops cannot be moved in and out of the city other than in the dead of night, that soldiers travel in daylight only in convoys of heavily armoured bullet proof personnel carriers and perhaps most tellingly of all he uncovers the fact that the military top brass have not ventured out of their Basra Palace HQ in many months.
All that doesn't sound like much of a success to me. More like an utterly disastrous and internationally isolated plan which has not only failed to make the world a safer place but has tarnished Britain's reputation worldwide.
The answer needed here is to bring all the troops home now and recognise that the military occupation of a sovereign country, one we knew far too little about, was a grievous error which only a fool could describe as a "success".

Colin Fox MSP, Scottish Socialist Party National Convener, Scottish Parliament

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