Editorial: The cut and run exit strategy
The situation in Iraq is clearly untenable for the "Coalition of the Willing" and a way out of the mess created by this coalition is now the new focus. A difficult situation, because of what are we going to say to those poor people who have lost family and friends in and for this war. What are we going to say to those who have lost their mind and limbs in and for this war. What are we going to say to the poor Iraqi people: "Look after the place, will you"?
Please note the cartoon by John Ditchburn on the right is not from this New Zealand based newspaper's editorial.
The Dominion Post | Friday, 12 October 2007
More than three years ago former British foreign secretary Robin Cook wrote that the United States had gone into Iraq with no exit strategy "for the straightforward reason that the Pentagon did not imagine they would ever have to leave", The Dominion Post writes.
Things have changed since then. What was to be Fortress America (Mid-East) has become a bloody quagmire, and the Pentagon would like nothing more than to bring its boys home.
That won't happen while George W Bush is in the White House, but Britain's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, has come up with his own exit strategy - cut and run. That's not what he's calling it, but that's what withdrawing the troops before the job is done amounts to.
Already the number of British troops was down from a peak of 45,000 to 5000. Now that is being halved to 2500. According to a foreign office official, Britain is on a "glide path" of irreversible reductions and there are no guarantees any troops will remain by the end of 2008.
It is now more than four years since Mr Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier and announced that major combat operations were over in Iraq.
The coalition saw 173 of its military personnel die in those major combat operations.
Since then, another 3645 have died. Less care has been taken counting the number of Iraqi dead. Documented deaths are about 75,000, but in a speech last month Samir Sumaidaie, the Iraqi ambassador to the United States, put the figure at 500,000.
Nor is there any sign of an end to those deaths.
However much the White House and Downing St wish to portray the withdrawal as being made possible by the success of the surge strategy - Mr Brown says "Iraqis are now able to take responsibility for the security themselves" - the British are not leaving behind stability and peace.
That much is obvious from the announcement that Iraqis who have worked for the British will be offered financial help to resettle elsewhere in Iraq or the region, or, in some cases, offered asylum in Britain. Instead, Britain is pulling out of a country where roadside bombs are a daily reality.
There is little sign of an enduring compromise between Kurd, Shia and Shiite in a state that was, after all, created less than a century ago by colonial map-makers according to decisions made in London.
The British are leaving a country where foreign private security companies - mercenaries would be a more accurate description - shoot Iraqi civilians but by US decree remain beyond the reach of the law and authority of the Iraqi Government, the same government US authorities expect Iraqis to respect and obey. They are leaving a country that remains in....