Acting under the aegis of OPERATION: "SNAP GENERAL ELECTION", British Troops are falling back from Basra palace to the relative safety of the airport.
This withdrawal comes just a week after Mr Frown rejected Sir Mr the Merciless' call to draw up plans for a withdrawal.
Perhaps Mr Frown thinks it is better to retreat WITHOUT drawing up a plan first. Maybe his reputation for doing well in a crisis is GOING TO HIS HEAD!
The Prime Monster does insist that this is NOT A DEFEAT. Perhaps he could remind us what the conditions for VICTORY were, in that case.
Still, I think we can all say that this is A GOOD THING. We would all like to see our troops come home – ideally leaving a SAFE and DEMOCRATIC Middle East behind them… but since that's NEVER going to happen, we should be grateful for as many of them being in one piece as we can manage.
Sadly, we cannot say that this is the end of our overseas commitments, and any troops being withdrawn from Iraq may face the prospect of immediately being shipped out to Helmund Province in Afghanistan. But at least in Afghanistan there is (a) a sort of coherent government that (b) actually wants us there and (c) in accordance with a properly orchestrated United Nations mandate.
(Unlike the Iraqi sticking plaster that the US and UK managed to get the Security Council to stick over the mess they had made by illegally invading in the first place. The occupying armies were "authorised" to take charge of Iraq under Security Council Resolution 1511(paragraph 13) on the grounds that if there was to BE an Iraqi state then the occupying forces would jolly well have to put it back together.)
The "in-no-way-a-retreat" from central Basra can only have been helped by the recent and highly astonishing SURPRISE announcement from leading firebrand Mr Moqtada al-Sadr that his militia forces will be taking a temporary break from terrorising all and sundry.
In fact, this announcement was SUCH a VERY astonishing surprise that a VERY CYNICAL person might wonder if this wasn't some sort of QUID before the British PRO QUO.
Coincidentally, those horrid Taliban in Afghanistan released their South Korean hostages when South Korea promised that they would be withdrawing their forces.
Meanwhile, recriminations over the total Horlicks of the Iraq campaign continue to be hurled back and forth across the Atlantic.
After retired generals from the United States had a go at bad-mouthing the UK, and Pentagon envoy retired General Keane spoke of the US "frustration" with the British, now Britain has deployed her own retired generals in a counter-offensive – or at least an attempt to be offensive in return – with retired General Mike "who's bad!" Jackson calling the US post-invasion policy "intellectually bankrupt" while Major General Tim "quite" Cross called US policy "fatally flawed".
I do not think that this SNIPING at each other is going to HELP very much.
It was WRONG to invade in the first place – we had not got the evidence, we would not wait for the UN Inspectors, we did not gain the support of the international community and most of all, for all Mr Saddam’s BLUSTER, Iraq was not a threat to us.
It is NO GOOD to say that it was all America’s fault – we went along with them. Would we go jump in a lake if they said they were going to do it too?
Accepting our fault – not trying to PASS the BUCK to Uncle Sam – is the only way to start HEALING our battered reputation.