U.K. Out of Iraq
March will bring the beginning of the British army’s withdrawal from Iraq, a move that will the current force of 4,100 down to roughly 400 by the summer.
As foolhardy as the U.S. invasion may have been, there’s a sick sense in which it was understandable for the British to acquiesce: there’s a longstanding establishmentarian strain in British postwar politics that the U.K. can best retain its postimperial global influence by serving as the U.S.’s right-hand man. That, of course, breaks down when the U.S. does something as totally-buck-wild as invading another country for dubious reasons in the face of massive international opposition. No wonder, then, that in the Guardian, Seumas Milne eulogizes the British experience in Iraq like this:
If British troops are indeed withdrawn from Iraq by next June, it will signal the end of the most shameful and disastrous episode in modern British history. Branded only last month by Lord Bingham, until recently Britain’s most senior law lord, as a “serious violation of international law”, the aggression against Iraq has not only devastated an entire country and left hundreds of thousands dead – it has also been a political and military humiliation for the invading powers.
In the case of Britain, which marched into a sovereign state at the bidding of an extreme and reckless US administration, the war has been a national disgrace which has damaged the country’s international standing. Britain’s armed forces will withdraw from Iraq with dishonour…
And on and on like that. One wonders how a post-Iraq U.K. foreign policy might reassess whether it really wants to be such an indespensible ally of an imperial America.