Basra a British failure: Times of London

posted at 7:54 am on March 28, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The fighting that has erupted in Basra should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the course of the war in Iraq. While the US has spent the last year increasing force size in western Iraq and more aggressively challenging militias in Baghdad, the British have become more passive in Basra and have significantly reduced their footprint to one-tenth of their original commitment. That has made them almost invisible in the south, and since the Iraqi Army did not have a large enough presence there either, the British reduction allowed competing Shi’ite militias to take control of the area.

Now that the Iraqi government has enough troops, they have tried to make their writ run in Basra — and as the Times of London notes, that highlights the failure of the British in that area:

British forces, who can probably cobble together an armoured battle group of a few hundred soldiers, may well be asked to intervene should the Iraqi offensive fail. If that happens, any hope of the withdrawal promised by Gordon Brown last year of another 1,500 British troops this spring will have to be shelved until Basra can be stabilised.

It may even be necessary to reinforce the British contingent with more combat troops, something that the Ministry of Defence can ill afford as it prepares for the fighting season in Afghanistan.

The only other option would be for Britain to admit finally that it has lost the fight in southern Iraq. That would mean an ignominious withdrawal and handing over control of Basra to the Americans, who grudgingly would have to take over responsibility for the south. As American officers and officials have privately made clear, much of today’s problems in Basra can be traced back to Britain’s failure to commit the forces necessary to control Basra and southern Iraq in general.

Whereas President Bush’s “surge” tactic of sending 30,000 reinforcements to central Iraq has succeeded in bringing down the level of violence in Baghdad and Anbar province, the Americans believe that the gradual withdrawal of British troops from the south has had the opposite effect, a point that Mr al-Maliki and his soldiers are discovering to their cost on the streets of Basra today.

The British took the wrong tack in the south, and the results have been plain for at least two years. Instead of remaining in control of Basra and keeping order until Iraq could build their new security forces, their reduced footprint created a vacuum for order that the militias were only too happy to fill. The Sadr Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigades started seizing control of the streets in 2004, when the British reduced their forces to 8600 troops, and they have only strengthened their grip while the British retreated further. The Washington Post noted the problem last summer, as the surge began showing signs of ending the sectarian strife everywhere else.

The fighting in Basra now was inevitable at some point. Baghdad couldn’t allow a major city like Basra to operate outside its control forever. Instead of an orderly transition from Coalition to Iraqi security control, as is happening in the West, the Maliki government now has to take Basra by force — while the rump of British power sits in its bases, unable to contribute at all to security any longer. Whether Maliki decided to do this next week or next year, the fight in Basra had to happen at some point in order to apply the rule of law throughout Iraq.

That’s why this isn’t a collapse of the American surge, but a demonstration of the folly of premature withdrawal. The lack of fortitude on Iraq left a vacuum that created bigger problems and more serious fighting than tenacity did. Had we listened to the war’s critics in 2005 and 2006, gangsters would have swallowed the entirety of Iraq, and we would have a second Somalia in southwest Asia.

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that highlights the failure of the British

color me shocked. they can’t even keep up with all the jihadists in their own country. Anyone been to England lately? I’ll give you a dollar if you find anyone who was actually born in the country…..

Branch Rickey on March 28, 2008 at 8:01 AM

But, if Barack is elected they will be just fine! No problems, then we can cut our military spending to pay for the socialism just like the UK did! Imagine the good we will be able to do for the unfortunates like those at Trinity! I hear the retired reverend is going to be forced to live in a 10,000 square foot home! I know I feel guilty about what my ancestors could have done from their home in Europe but didn’t, instead they selfishly spent their time trying to survive.

We can surrender.

YES, WE, CAN!

LifeTrek on March 28, 2008 at 8:13 AM

No kidding,and within the last 24-48 hrs,the green zone
is in a cautionary mode with mortars fireing in and around
the that area.

I’ve been watching the news reports,and so far CNN,is
still in deep talking about Obama,and thats a good thing!

Somewhere along the line,the media’s going to jump on this
and start up the surge,and the war is lost again crap!

And to be clear,yes the surge is a success,but its the
election cycle,Jihadys will try and sh!t-disturb to make
it look bad,but will the lefty media no the difference,
probably not!

canopfor on March 28, 2008 at 8:14 AM

I wonder what will happen when we withdraw?

tarpon on March 28, 2008 at 8:21 AM

What I think this really shows is that much of the success of the surge has been due to the cease fire declared by Sadr.

But just laying this all on the British is a bit disingenuous. This is an American strategy. We’ve been training the Iraqi army for years now with the promise that we’d hand over security to them. One would have to assume at this point they are well armed and well trained.

The one key ingrediant lacking is a will to fight for this government. This is what a defecter loyal to the Madi army had to say:

The Iraqi Army is already defeated from within. They come to Basra with fear in their hearts, knowing they have to fight their brothers, the sons of Iraq, because of an order from Bush and his friends in the Iraq Government. For this reason, all of the battles are going in the Mahdi Army’s favour.

Now this is just one person. We’ll see how this plays out. But to call this a failure of the British just seems like passing the buck. Kind of like blaming liberals and MSM for failures in Iraq.

We will find out in the coming weeks and months whether Iraq can handle the responsibility for securing their nation without falling into sectarian strife.

Ed, this is what you wrote back in December. We’re getting our answer now. If it turns out they cannot secure Basra, the question then becomes, what has to be done to get the Iraqi army ready to handle security? Is it more time? More training? If so, how much of each?

And would the same thing happen if the US handed over security to the IA in the West? Again, if yes, then what more needs to be done that hasn’t been done to get the IA ready to handle security?

Or is it just a case of Iraqis lacking the will to defend this government? Personally, I would think if there was a strong will of Iraqis to go in and defeat the Madhi army, with the training and weapons they’ve received, they’d be able to do it.

The problem seems to be, to me, that the Mahdi army believes in it’s cause more than the Iraqi army believes in the cause its fighting for.

Tom_Shipley on March 28, 2008 at 8:23 AM

Actually Shipley, the timing of this offensive has much to do with the Democrats needing a distraction here in America. The enemies of America are working hand-n-hand with your party. The past (2) weeks have been very damaging for both of your candidates; low and behold, here comes Sadr to the rescue.

The fat man needs to reach room temperature…

Keemo on March 28, 2008 at 8:28 AM

For months the U.S. mainstream media have ignored Iraq but now that a minor flare up has occurred they’re more than happy to jump back in. The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN couldn’t wait to headline this incident. These leftist rags are ecstatic anytime they can offer support to their leftist buddies in the party of the Democrats.

rplat on March 28, 2008 at 8:32 AM

The past (2) weeks have been very damaging for both of your candidates; low and behold, here comes Sadr to the rescue.

I hope you’re being tongue in cheek here, cause if not it shows just how ignorant you are.

First off, this is not Sadr’s doing, but Maliki’s. He chose to go into Basra at this point. Sadr has called for a peaceful solution and still has not ordered an end to the cease fire (though he has cleared his militia to fight in self defense, which is more or less allowing them to fight in Basra).

minor flare up

you’re right, the first big test of the Iraqi Army’s independence doesn’t warrant much coverage.

Tom_Shipley on March 28, 2008 at 8:41 AM

It appears the British Army (and Royal Navy) that won in the Falklands is a distant memory.

However, the term “Iraqi Army” may be a fiction. It’s no wonder the toughest fights we see reported most often appear to be between US troops and non-Iraqi fighters.

If the Iraqis won’t fight for themselves, then I say send the US troops to the Mexican border, along with lots of land mines. But no water boarding. That would be rude.

doufree on March 28, 2008 at 8:46 AM

How predictable; Shipley makes Sadr out to be a victim while blaming the Bush robot Maliki…

Keemo on March 28, 2008 at 8:47 AM

Captain, KUDOS! You hit that nail smack dab on the head. Also, your coda rocks:

Had we listened to the war’s critics in 2005 and 2006, gangsters would have swallowed the entirety of Iraq, and we would have a second Somalia in southwest Asia.

Our/Iraq’s greatest concern is in their inbred inability to unite. What Americans embrace from our motto e pluribus unum is cooperative strength and mutual respect. But to Islamists, the only “ideal” sentiment they recognize from the Latin is another motto exhonerating honor killings and butchering of infidels of any race or Islamic sect that does not match the arm holding the sword or the finger on the button.

Our American led coalition forces have provided all Iraqis, men AND WOMEN, regardless of faith, with their democratic vote and their own coalition government that created its own constitution. We have protected them from the various Islamic mob thugs and have trained their police and their military. It is at the point now where Britain quit holding its breath waiting to exhale.

Sadly, of all the world’s governments, it is the UK with the experience to know what works and what fails in fostering new democratic governments abroad. True, those new democracies had been colonies ruled by British bureaucracy. But when the British left, though not perfect, they had shown what works and how to make government work to those peoples who had been under their rule. China (as did Russia) proved in their revolutions to become totally socialists, without any balance of tolerance for contrary political parties. Communists, socialists and Islamists share in common the self-concept of the right to obliterate any difference in others by exterminating those who will not convert to become purely the one sect “chosen” to rule the world.

During our last century, we have witnessed the various outcomes from former British colonies. And like many nannies, in old age Britain’s image and patience has worn thin, and they get neglected by their own children. Those whom they raised as the new socialist generation throw off their grandparent’s old wisdom in preference for their newly enforced ignorance.

In America we see our politicians for any change that leaves them out of any difficulty.

As per McCain, he’d better secure our borders first thing.

maverick muse on March 28, 2008 at 8:48 AM

Maliki needed to go into Basra, it had turned into a gangster run city thanks to the British withdrawal.

The question is, how much of the Mahdi “army” does Sadr control anymore. I’m betting the Iranians have effectively co-opted a large segment of it for their own purpose: causing mischief against US interests. The fighting shows that we need to stay and keep helping the Iraqi Army, remember they do not have all the weapon platforms the US has (planes, tanks, etc.) so it is going to be much harder for them.

rbj on March 28, 2008 at 8:50 AM

Tom….

What, exactly, does the surge have to do with Basra again? What, exactly, does al Sadr have to do with Anbar again?

Immolate on March 28, 2008 at 8:51 AM

But… but… remember how smart the Brits were to use “soft power”? Didn’t the Dems and the NYT (but I repeat myself) tell us about how stupid and clumsy the Chimp and his armies were compared to the oh-so-clever euro-suave approach? They were positively gleeful when it made us look stupid – but come to think of it, that is the role of the Democratic party – to celebrate the failings of America, and help them along whenever possible.

drunyan8315 on March 28, 2008 at 8:51 AM

How predictable; Shipley makes Sadr out to be a victim while blaming the Bush robot Maliki…

So you’re not being tongue in cheek…

Keemo, you claim that this battle was timed by the democrats and Sadr, but Sadr had nothing to do with the timing of this battle and doesn’t even want to be fighting it. Maliki chose to send his army into Basra a couple days ago. So, in order for your claim that this battle is happening now because:

The enemies of America are working hand-n-hand with your party.

Maliki would have to be America’s enemy and consulted with the democrats about when to send the Iraqi army into Basra.

Tom_Shipley on March 28, 2008 at 8:52 AM

As per McCain, he’d better secure our borders first thing.

maverick muse on March 28, 2008 at 8:48 AM

Enjoyed your comment. Re. McCain, do u mean it would be advisable for him to do so, or do you mean we better do it as he has suggested, or do you mean he better or you’re gonna be pissed as hell for saying he will but doesn’t do it?

JiangxiDad on March 28, 2008 at 8:56 AM

It’s sad that the Brits, to borrow Thatcher’s words, “have gone all wobbly on us.”

Sugar Land on March 28, 2008 at 9:01 AM

If the British F this up, we should take Britain and give it to Sarkozy and the French.

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 28, 2008 at 9:03 AM

Al Sadr had to fight in his own self defense?

Holy cow, that’s some industrial strength crazy there.

I see this whole mess as a perfect condemnation of “hearts and minds” warfare. GW Bush ran against exactly this sort of nation building in 2000 before embracing it in Iraq. But he didn’t understand that before one can build an enemy nation one better achieve total military victory first.

funky chicken on March 28, 2008 at 9:04 AM

So Tom, you can now speak for Sadr? Do you recall what country Sadr ran to when seeking sanctuary from the good ol’ American soldiers? That country would be none other than Iran.

And “YES” Tom, the enemies of America have been busy offering their support to your party for the past several years. We have video tape and sound bites galore to prove such a claim. The love affair thugs have with the Democrat party is undeniable.

Keemo on March 28, 2008 at 9:04 AM

That country would be none other than Iran.

GASP!

You what, come back when you get a clue… until then, it’s worthless talking to you.

Tom_Shipley on March 28, 2008 at 9:06 AM

Well Tom, guess I’ll just have to go to work then….

Cheers (:

Keemo on March 28, 2008 at 9:09 AM

Tom, you deny that Al Sadr hid in Iran for a while?

funky chicken on March 28, 2008 at 9:12 AM

What, exactly, does the surge have to do with Basra again? What, exactly, does al Sadr have to do with Anbar again?

As I said before, the strategy of the surge is to buy time for Iraq to work out their political situation and for the Iraqi to be trained to take over security responsibility for the country. This is the first real test of the Iraqi Army working on it’s own. So far, it’s hasn’t gone so well.

US forces defeated insurgents and brought relative calm to Anbar. We have talked about handing over control to the Iraqi army there as early as this month, but now say there’s no time frame for that happening. There’s a lot of discontent among the Sunni tribes in that region. At this point, we don’t think the Iraqi army is ready to handle security in Anbar.

My point is, neither goal of the surge has been met. What we have to ask ourselves is, do we stick it out longer, provide more training in the hopes that more time and training will allow the Iraqi army to handle security, or is training not the problem? Is there a deeper issue of a lack of will to fight for this government that’s hindering efforts to turn over security?

Tom_Shipley on March 28, 2008 at 9:18 AM

Perhaps the bombs the US is dropping on the Mahdi army in Basra today will make a decisive difference. Pray for our victory folks.

Hopefully Basra a British Failure turns into Basra an American Success.

JiangxiDad on March 28, 2008 at 9:18 AM

Tom, you deny that Al Sadr hid in Iran for a while?

Nope, but it’s completely irrelevant to the timing and cause of the battle in Basra.

Tom_Shipley on March 28, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Perhaps the bombs the US are dropping on the Mahdi army in Basra today will make a decisive difference. Pray for our victory folks.

Hopefully Basra a British Failure turns into Basra an American Success.

JiangxiDad on March 28, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Sorry

JiangxiDad on March 28, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Hopefully Basra a British Failure turns into Basra an American Success.

Problem is, if we go in a win the battle, what exactly has been accomplished? I don’t think we’ll wipe out the Mahdi army. And American action may further disenchant some Iraqis with the Maliki government.

Americans winning the battle in Basra would just show what we’ve known all along… our military is awesome and we can beat anyone. The Iraqi army on the other hand…

guess I’ll just have to go to work then…

I’m right behind you.

Tom_Shipley on March 28, 2008 at 9:21 AM

Now we will find out if the Iraqi Security Forces have the operational capacity and more importantly the WILL to take back Basra. There can be no “deal” this time. Malaki and the central government must empty their very shallow cupboard on this one. Here you go folks, probably the most important day in the history of the conflict. If they stand and fight, we’ll have their back. If they don’t finish these bastards once and for all, I’m afraid they never will.

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 28, 2008 at 9:24 AM

Thank the Lord

“Tom_Shipley” is not in control of Military Strategy & Tactics, or Foreign Policy.

franksalterego on March 28, 2008 at 9:24 AM

Problem is, if we go in a win the battle, what exactly has been accomplished? I don’t think we’ll wipe out the Mahdi army. And American action may further disenchant some Iraqis with the Maliki government.

Americans winning the battle in Basra would just show what we’ve known all along… our military is awesome and we can beat anyone. The Iraqi army on the other hand…

I doubt we’ll completely wipe out the Mahdis, but even a good crippling of them would be good. The locals are fed up with them, they are a bunch of thugs, & criminals.

The thing is, the Iraqi Army can’t stand on its own yet. It isn’t much more than a group of guys with rifles. They don’t have any air power of their own, or heavy weapons like tanks. But they need to walk before they can run, and right now they are at the just standing up phase.

rbj on March 28, 2008 at 9:27 AM

A far simpler solution should have been followed years ago, as myself and several others suggested at Captain’s Quarters–Al Sadr should have been shot four years ago. Had that event occurred there would be no “army” to deal with. Instead we have a toothless fat f*ck running amok when ever his mentors in Iran tell him to.

All wars are about killing the leadership–the sooner the better. The PC crowd prevented it in this case (it was labelled assassination) and we continue to pay in lives and currency.

patrick neid on March 28, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Why am I reminded of Billy Connolly saying ‘It’s f’n obvious to me!’
Go into a bar in Anytown, USA. Have a confrontation with another patron. Now, go ahead and tell me: Do you watch out for the guy in front of you? Or his friends?

TinMan13 on March 28, 2008 at 9:30 AM

How predictable; Shipley makes Sadr out to be a victim while blaming the Bush robot Maliki…

Keemo on March 28, 2008 at 8:47 AM

You read my mind

Branch Rickey on March 28, 2008 at 9:33 AM

JiangxiDad on March 28, 2008 at 8:56 AM

D. all of the above

maverick muse on March 28, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Great. Now, they are talking about a five day cease fire. Our generals need to read about Sherman’s march. Bringing death and destruction and a world of hell to the shiites in Basra now will bring a longer and more substantive peace.

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 28, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Problem is, if we go in a win the battle, what exactly has been accomplished? I don’t think we’ll wipe out the Mahdi army. And American action may further disenchant some Iraqis with the Maliki government.

Americans winning the battle in Basra would just show what

Tom_Shipley on March 28, 2008 at 9:21 AM

Yeah ur right. Better not to try.
Words have meaning. WIN THE BATTLE MEANS WIN THE BATTLE. You may try to construe winning to mean losing but stupid Americans like me aren’t quite as stupid as that.

You’re a loser Tom. But that’s good, right?

JiangxiDad on March 28, 2008 at 9:36 AM

Al Sadr should have been shot four years ago. Had that event occurred there would be no “army” to deal with….All wars are about killing the leadership–the sooner the better. The PC crowd prevented it in this case (it was labelled assassination) and we continue to pay in lives and currency.

patrick neid on March 28, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Bravo! and take that other fata$$ leading Hezbollah out of Lebanon.

Branch Rickey on March 28, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Hopefully Basra a British Failure turns into Basra an American Success.–JiangxiDad on March 28, 2008 at 9:18 AM

OR, hopefully the British will about face and do their job without whining or withering.

maverick muse on March 28, 2008 at 9:39 AM

patrick neid on March 28, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Death to PC!

Win the war.

Maybe the USA will get something out of the Iraqi experience after all, NO MORE PC!

maverick muse on March 28, 2008 at 9:42 AM

WHO knows where Hassan Nemazee (Hillary’s contributor on the pressure letter to Nancy) stands on Iran-Iraq?

maverick muse on March 28, 2008 at 9:44 AM

Those that would cut and run, as the British did here in Basra, need to understand that the violent result of their withdrawal provides a telling example of what would take place throughout Iraq should we follow England’s example of leaving before the job is done.

Who wants to place bets that Hillary, Obama, Reed, or any other defeatist will acknowledge this simple, obvious, in-your-face fact? They won’t. They will use this as a twisted-logic example that we are losing and should get out sooner.

Rod on March 28, 2008 at 9:45 AM

“Basra doesn’t reflect a failure of the surge, but instead reinforces its necessity.”

Sums it up perfectly.
But the idiots in most of the press are pushing just the opposite theme,trying to show this as a failure of the
surge.

I guess dancing on our Soldiers graves with the 4000 “milestone” wasn’t enough,now the MSM have to show how ignorant they are in assessing what is going on in Iraq.

The press practically ignores Iraq and the progress that
has been made over the last year,only to jump on front page
stories again with the smoke coming from bombs and “concerned” broadcasters pumping their “civil war,all is lost themes” some more.

Maliki is taking a stand against Sader and his Militias,something the defeatist said he would never do,and
is showing the country that the government is in control and
is looking out for everyone,not just the shia.

Government is the only authority and no negotiations with “the gangs” – PM
Baghdad, 28 March 2008 (Voices of Iraq)
http://www.iraqupdates.com/p_articles.php/article/29125

Premier Nouri al-Maliki said from Basra on Thursday that the government is the only authority, rebuffing to negotiate with what he described as “the gangs” responsible for killings and criminal acts in the southern Iraqi city.

“We emphasize that the state is the ruler, none else, and it is capable of facing any force anywhere,” said a release issued by Maliki’s office and received by Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).

It added “We are determined to respond to the criminal gangs, and no retreat and no negotiations, because we reject to negotiate with the gangs, and we consider it a violation of the law and constitution.”

Wow!,an Iraqi leader talking about abiding by the law and
the constitution.

If the democrats had had their way,it would
be Al-qaeda talking about attacks on the west,not a freely elected leader talking about abiding by the rule of law presented by a freely elected government.

This will be a hard fight,militarily and politically,but one we need and will win.

Baxter Greene on March 28, 2008 at 9:46 AM

Sadr and the islamanazis better hope this doesn’t drag on until Maverick’s in power or it will be curtains.

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 28, 2008 at 9:46 AM

As far as I’m concerned, there’s a direct correlation between Sadr’s so-called “army” in Iraq, and Liberals in this country.

And, it all boils down to “power”

There is little doubt in my mind, the Wright-wing, or the Left-wing in this country, would toss their own children, if it would further their cause.

The Wright-wing plants the seeds of hatred and mistrust in their children.

The Left-wing has their children convinced, that they’re victims.

Not much different than Sadr.

franksalterego on March 28, 2008 at 10:04 AM

Al Sadr should have been shot four years ago. Had that event occurred there would be no “army” to deal with….All wars are about killing the leadership–the sooner the better. The PC crowd prevented it in this case (it was labelled assassination) and we continue to pay in lives and currency.

patrick neid on March 28, 2008 at 9:30 AM

Bravo! and take that other fata$$ leading Hezbollah out of Lebanon.

Branch Rickey on March 28, 2008 at 9:38 AM

funky chicken on March 28, 2008 at 10:08 AM

“Tom Shipley” sound an awful lot like “Barack Obama”

Please remember that when you are casting your vote for Commander in Chief this November.

funky chicken on March 28, 2008 at 10:09 AM

There is little doubt in my mind, the Wright-wing, or the Left-wing in this country, would toss their own children, if it would further their cause.

Kathleen Soliah tossed her own children.
Obama’s biological parents both tossed him.
Briana Waters tossed her children.

JiangxiDad on March 28, 2008 at 10:10 AM

Great. Now, they are talking about a five day cease fire. Our generals need to read about Sherman’s march. Bringing death and destruction and a world of hell to the shiites in Basra now will bring a longer and more substantive peace.

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 28, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Hudna for Sadr. How sweet. Has the Bush admin learned nothing? Or are they determined to let Maliki learn the same stupid lesson that we have the hard way?

funky chicken on March 28, 2008 at 10:12 AM

What should we do… make the Limey’s clean up their mess, or kick them out and do it ourselves?

CliffHanger on March 28, 2008 at 10:17 AM

JiangxiDad on March 28, 2008 at 10:10 AM

Yes,

And, according to the headlines yesterday:

Since September, 20 Chicago Public Schools students have been killed, 18 by gunfire. Last school year, 24 of the more than 30 students killed were shot to death, compared with between 10 and 15 fatal shootings in the years before.

Thanks to the Wright-wing, Chicago is becoming a Third-World War-Zone…Notice “who” takes the hit.

franksalterego on March 28, 2008 at 10:18 AM

so this is what happens to the rest of Iraq if we withdrawal, followed by a world wide economic collapse as Iran moves in.

jp on March 28, 2008 at 10:20 AM

The poor old Brits have lost their identity somewhere along the way. They used to be a people of strong conviction dogged courage and admirable principles. They have lost much of this. Can they get it back? I’d like to think so.

jeanie on March 28, 2008 at 10:22 AM

But to call this a failure of the British just seems like passing the buck. Kind of like blaming liberals and MSM for failures in Iraq.

Tom_Shipley on March 28, 2008 at 8:23 AM

“Researchers at Harvard say that publicly voiced doubts about the U.S. occupation of Iraq have a “measureable effect” on insurgents there.

Periods of intense news media coverage in the United States of criticism about the war, or of polling about public opinions on the conflict, are followed by a small but quantifiable increases in the number of attacks on civilians and U.S. forces in Iraq…

The increase in attacks is more pronounced in areas of Iraq that have better access to international news media, the authors conclude in a report titled “Is There an ‘Emboldenment’ Effect? Evidence from the Insurgency in Iraq.”

… “We find that in periods immediately after a spike in anti-resolve statements, the level of insurgent attacks increases,” says the study”

Here’s the study, Tom, but I’m sure you won’t bother to read it.

http://people.rwj.harvard.edu/~riyengar/insurgency.pdf

Del Dolemonte on March 28, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Failure is bombing a city you are occupying.

It’s a war crime, actually.

We’re currently bombing Basra and Baghdad.

Interesting choice to go with Rupert Murdoch’s spin instead of Bush’s, though.

alphie on March 28, 2008 at 10:41 AM

Failure is bombing a city you are occupying.

It’s a war crime, actually.

We’re currently bombing Basra and Baghdad.

Interesting choice to go with Rupert Murdoch’s spin instead of Bush’s, though.

alphie on March 28, 2008 at 10:41 AM

I see Noam Chomsky has entered the building…

Del Dolemonte on March 28, 2008 at 10:46 AM

Failure is bombing a city you are occupying.

It’s a war crime, actually.

We’re currently bombing Basra and Baghdad.

Interesting choice to go with Rupert Murdoch’s spin instead of Bush’s, though.

alphie on March 28, 2008 at 10:41 AM

If we were “bombing a city” Baghdad and Basra would cease to exist.

franksalterego on March 28, 2008 at 10:48 AM

The British should have to leave their weapons, tanks, ammo, choppers and planes there for the Iraqi Security Forces. If the British aren’t going to stand up and fight then there is no need for the gear.

THE CHOSEN ONE on March 28, 2008 at 10:50 AM

alphie on March 28, 2008 at 10:41 AM

Incredible how people like you think they are qualified to interpret law. Especially when your interpretations are not based on facts.
The Mahdi army is occupying Basra and stealing most of the oil production in order to finance their terrorist organization. Basra population is made up of Mahdi army members and their supporters. Blanket bomb the bastards and start over.
Unfortunately, this is just another of Britain’s long list of failures that would not have come about had they the courage to do their dam job. They should just get the hell out of the way.

leanright on March 28, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Our forces bombed a couple buildings in Basra today, but yeah if we bombed the city it would look like Dresden after WWII or worse. It would be POWDER, not rubble.

Our warplanes use precision guided munitions to take out enemy emplacements.

As for Sadr, what he says publicly and what he orders his gang to do are completely different things. When I see someone repeating anything Ali Sadr has said, I know I’m dealing with a complete moron.

dogsoldier on March 28, 2008 at 11:21 AM

We could have just backed al Sadr, lean.

He’s going to be running Iraq soon anyways.

America doesn’t always have to back corrupt incompetents (see:Vietnam).

alphie on March 28, 2008 at 11:36 AM

It’s no wonder the toughest fights we see reported most often appear to be between US troops and non-Iraqi fighters.

Reported being the key word. The Iraqi Army and Police are doing the brunt of the fighting in this country. We are often the decisive element, but to discount the IA and IP is a bit uninformed. The Iraqi division I am working with is involved in this – try telling them they aren’t doing anything…

major john on March 28, 2008 at 11:48 AM

So ‘The Surge’ was supposed to secure Baghdad and the problems in Basra were the fault of the British.

If that is the case, then why is Baghdad under curfew and why is it raining mortars in the Green Zone? You accuse the British of failing in Basra but wasn’t it the Americans who gave Sadr $350,000,000 in return for a cease fire? How is that tough? Did those funds go to good public works?

There are legitimate questions to be raised about British tactics in Basra… just as there are legitimate questions to be raised about the success of the surge policy and the policy the Americans have used of paying off rather than effectively defeating militants all our Iraq and Afghanistan. The synopsis here is pretty simplistic and wholly incorrect… and really as useful (read useless) as blaming the Bush administration for disbanding the army and creating the core of the insurgency in the first place… as well as conspiring to increase Iran’s influence in the region.

The real test will be to see if the Iraqi government can effectively control a vital part of the country with the troops that we have spent so much time and effort to train.

lexhamfox on March 28, 2008 at 11:50 AM

leanright – Basra is NOT made up of just militia members and their supporters. Plenty of the people living there got tired of the militia nonsense and starting appealing to the central government to come down and fix things a while ago. 2.1 million or so people in Al Basrah – and you are willing to zorch ’em all? Not while I am serving here.

major john on March 28, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Major John,

Maybe you guys should let the residents of Basra vote on whether they want to be “liberated” by an Iranian backed central government and U.S. “precision” bombs?

I doubt 1% would vote yes…

alphie on March 28, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Basra made the British look like pussy.

jdun on March 28, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Not while I am serving here.
major john on March 28, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Maybe you guys should . . .
alphie on March 28, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Who wants to bet the Major knows a little bit more about what he’s saying than “alphie”.

Another thing I’d put my money on: Major John could kick alphie’s @$$ in a fight.

In fact with a name like Alphie I’ll bet it happens to him all the time.

The Ritz on March 28, 2008 at 12:50 PM

BAGHDAD, March 27 — U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in Sadr City, the vast Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, as an offensive to quell party-backed militias entered its third day. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting.

See how all the American training of Iraqis has paid off. Now why didn’t the Brits do that?

MB4 on March 28, 2008 at 1:04 PM

So ‘The Surge’ was supposed to secure Baghdad and the problems in Basra were the fault of the British.

If that is the case, then why is Baghdad under curfew and why is it raining mortars in the Green Zone?

lexhamfox on March 28, 2008 at 11:50 AM

Because the Iraqis are firing super duper long range mortars from Basra to Baghdad and the Green Zone?

That must be it.

MB4 on March 28, 2008 at 1:09 PM

The British should have to leave their weapons, tanks, ammo, choppers and planes there for the Iraqi Security Forces. If the British aren’t going to stand up and fight then there is no need for the gear.

The UK armed forces gear is largely rubbish as they have been chronically underfunded for decades.

I doubt the jihadis would want it let alone the Iraqis.

Ares on March 28, 2008 at 1:11 PM

Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting.

Reported from Mahogany Ridge?

major john on March 28, 2008 at 1:23 PM

Failure is bombing a city you are occupying.

alphie on March 28, 2008 at 10:41 AM

If we were “bombing a city” Baghdad and Basra would cease to exist.

franksalterego on March 28, 2008 at 10:48 AM

We had to destroy the village in order to save it.

MB4 on March 28, 2008 at 1:25 PM

Reported from Mahogany Ridge?

major john on March 28, 2008 at 1:23 PM

I dunno, could be. Maybe from a swimming pool in the Green Zone. Maybe from Saigon.

It’s all over the news. I doubt that it was just made up out of whole cloth as part of some vast conspiracy.

Four U.S. Stryker armored vehicles were seen in Sadr City by a Washington Post correspondent, one of them engaging Mahdi Army militiamen with heavy fire. The din of American weapons, along with the Mahdi Army’s AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, was heard through much of the day. U.S. helicopters and drones buzzed overhead.

MB4 on March 28, 2008 at 1:48 PM

The pullout on Basra is the mirror image of another British disaster a couple of years ago in Helmand province, Afghanistan. There, they made a “deal” with local leaders to keep the Taliban out of the town; upon receiving this assurance (no doubt ironclad) the British pulled out.

Obviously, the Taliban moved back in.

Immediately.

And it was left to British and other ISAF forces to reclaim the territory that had been effectively surrendered.

The point is that I do not believe that this was naivete on the part of the British. I believe they knew exactly what they were doing and what would happen in both Afghanistan and Basra. Their assurances to the public that security improvements in the regions allowed a draw-down of troops was not a mistake. It was willful blindness and deceit.

This is what happens when you allow foreign policy to be dictated by the media and, specifically, by the BBC.

Blaise on March 28, 2008 at 3:09 PM

The British media were running articles several years ago about how British forces were infinitely more effective in Basra with their infinitely more sophisticated and nuanced approach. You see, the ignorant, warmonger Yanks simply weren’t intelligent or sophisticated enough.

Django on March 28, 2008 at 3:18 PM

The British media were running articles several years ago about how British forces were infinitely more effective in Basra with their infinitely more sophisticated and nuanced approach. You see, the ignorant, warmonger Yanks simply weren’t intelligent or sophisticated enough.

I heard this line parroted by a few British army soldiers I know. It’s not convincing even to them I suspect.

There is a great deal of discontent concerning their role in a world where they are taking on more and more commitments every year with less and less financial and moral support from back home. There is also the natural jealousy when they see how much more valued US soldiers are in terms of equipment and conditions out in the field.

Against this backdrop the ‘hearts and minds’ BS reads like a cynical Ministry of Defence PR stunt tbh…

Ares on March 28, 2008 at 4:01 PM

Any Roman Catholic family could have told you that the Withdrawal method doesn’t work.

piraticalbob on March 28, 2008 at 4:38 PM