Britain Announce Withdrawal Plan
Juan Cole puts Tony Blair's mission accomplished nonsense to rest.
This is a rout, there should be no mistake. The fractious Shiite militias and tribes of Iraq's South have made it impossible for the British to stay. They already left Sadr-controlled Maysan province, as well as sleepy Muthanna. They moved the British consulate to the airport because they couldn't protect it in Basra. They are taking mortar and rocket fire at their bases every night. Raiding militia HQs has not resulted in any permanent change in the situation. Basra is dominated by 4 paramilitaries, who are fighting turf wars with one another and with the Iraqi government over oil smuggling rights.
Blair is not leaving Basra because the British mission has been accomplished. He is leaving because he has concluded that it cannot be, and that if he tries any further it will completely sink the Labor Party, perhaps for decades to come.
I mentioned that fighting is still intense in Basra. Blair is pulling a Nixon. Declare victory and bug out.
"Do I think it was a good thing?" John McCain said of the British pullout. "No, I wish they would stay longer."
The Coalition of the Willing is getting smaller.