Friday, October 13, 2006

Reality Rudely Intrudes

As you'll undoubtedly know, the head of the British Army has given an unprecedentedly candid interview on the situation in Iraq. He told the Daily Mail:
We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear.

As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren’t invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time.

The military campaign we fought in 2003 effectively kicked the door in. Whatever consent we may have had in the first place, may have turned to tolerance and has largely turned to intolerance.

That is a fact. I don’t say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them.


I think history will show that the planning for what happened after the initial successful war fighting phase was poor, probably based more on optimism than sound planning.

There are those who feel that the General should not have spoken out publicly in this way. The fact that he has says everything about the futility of the government's attitude to the situation and their absolute unwillingness to face up to the mess they have created, Unlike Blair, it appears that General Dannatt cannot in good conscience continue to risk the lives of British soldiers for no other reason than to maintain a facade of fiction and denial for political purposes. The General's comments are a very public signal of the army's enormous frustration at having to play such a role.

And Blair now appears to be saying that he agrees with every word the General said. He agrees that the difficulties we are experiencing around the world are exacerbated by our presence in Iraq? That'd be progress if it were true but Blair's statements are actually about nothing more than spin and damage control. He has never admitted to that obvious truth and if a reporter asks him to publically admit it tomorrow, he won't.

To fully understand the extent to which Blair's statements are detached from reality, consider this:
[T]he prime minister said the reason the government had been able to so far give up two provinces to Iraqi control was "precisely because the job has been done there."
For those who missed it, here's a post I wrote on the aftermath of British withdrawal from the two provinces where "the job has been done". In both provinces, the bases which were "transfered" to the Iraqi security forces were actually stripped bare by looters in short order. There is no sign that Iraq's central government has any degree of control or authority over either of these provinces; they have effectively been handed over to religious Shiite factions.

And without British forces providing security, Western journalists are unlikely to venture into either of these provinces for any length of time to be able to accurately report what is actually happening there now. Violent enforcement of a fundamentalist interpretation of Sharia law? Probably, but we in the West will be none the wiser.

With that in mind, it is perhaps obvious why the General is having difficulty being enthusiastic about continuing to "do the job" asked of him by this government.

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