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Blair Announces Beginning of Troop Withdrawals

FutureGM

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LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce Wednesday a timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, British media reported.

Blair will also tell the House of Commons during his regular weekly appearance before it that a total of about 3,000 British soldiers will have left southern Iraq by the end of 2007, if the security there is sufficient, the British Broadcasting Corp. and The Sun newspaper said, quoting government officials who weren?t further identified.

The BBC said Blair was not expected to say when the rest of Britain?s forces would leave Iraq. Currently, Britain has about 7,100 soldiers there.

The announcement comes as President Bush implements an increase of 21,000 more troops for Iraq, but while some of the other coalition partners are pulling out: The Italians and Slovaks have left, and the Danes and the South Koreans want to start withdrawing.

Blair and President Bush spoke about the timetable Tuesday morning, NBC reported.

Blair and Bush talked by secure video link Tuesday morning, and Bush views Britain?s troop cutbacks as ?a sign of success? in Iraq, said U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

?While the United Kingdom is maintaining a robust force in southern Iraq, we?re pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transition more control to the Iraqis,? Johndroe said in Washington.

Britain has long been the most important coalition member in Iraq after the United States. But Blair knows the British public and politicians from his own Labour Party want the troops out as quickly as possible, and don?t want to see Britain stick with the United States in Iraq for the long haul.

Militarily, a British withdrawal isn?t likely to have much effect on the stepped-up U.S. operation in Baghdad or the war with the Sunnis in Anbar province west of the Iraqi capital. However, Iraqi forces could have a tough time maintaining security in mostly Shiite southern Iraq, including Basra city.

According to NBC News, White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Blair will announce he is withdrawing 1,700 troops from Basra.

Blair?s Downing Street office refused to comment on the report, which also said Blair would tell the Commons that if the situation worsens on the ground on Iraq, his new game plan could change.

A British government official confirmed that Blair would make a statement to the Commons on Wednesday on the status of British forces in Iraq. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Johndroe said that ?the United States shares the same goal of turning responsibility over to the Iraqi Security Forces and reducing the number of American troops in Iraq. ... President Bush sees this as a sign of success and what is possible for us once we help the Iraqis deal with the sectarian violence in Baghdad.?

?We want to bring our troops homes as well,? Johndroe said. ?It?s the model we want to emulate, to turn over more responsibilities to Iraqis and bring our troops home. That?s the goal and always has been.?

At a news conference in Brussels on Jan. 15, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was not bothered that Britain was ?planning a drawdown at some point this year in their forces in the south.?

He said Basra?s security situation was much different than Baghdad?s.

Currently, according to the Brookings Institution, besides Britain, the major partners in the coalition include South Korea (2,300 troops), Poland (900), Australia and Georgia (both 800), Romania (600) and Denmark (460).

Some say there is little point in boosting forces in the largely Shiite south of Iraq, where most non-U.S. coalition troops are concentrated. Yet as more countries draw down or pull out, it could create a security vacuum if radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stirs up trouble there.

Blair, who has said he will step down as prime minister by September after a decade in power, has seen his foreign-policy record overshadowed by his role as Bush?s leading ally in the unpopular war.

Last month, Blair said he would report to lawmakers on his future strategy in Iraq following the completion of Operation Sinbad, a joint British and Iraqi mission targeting police corruption and militia influence in Basra. The operation was completed Sunday, and Blair?s spokesman called it a success.

Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who is likely to succeed Blair, has said he hoped several thousand British soldiers would be withdrawn by December.

In November, Defense Secretary Des Browne said he believed the number of British troops based in Iraq would be ?significantly lower by a matter of thousands? by the end of 2007.
Just about every other original member of the coalition (Spain, England, Italy, even POLAND has left already). Only Australia seems to be sticking with Bush's war at this point.
 
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If everyone pulls out of Iraq now, what do you thin will happen? Al-Qaeda will want to cease violence and enter into negotiations with the west? This is a major victory for radical islam world wide. Because as you recall things starting goign south after the sunni radicals began destroying shiite holy sites. This is the major victory of radicalism over the West. And apparently people are ok with that.

We should not have ever gone itno Iraq, to put ourselves in this position where we can allow our weaknesses to be exposed by radicalism. But now that we're there a defeat, which has not happened yet, would be catastrophic. A near equivalent of USSR's pull out in afghanistan. Al lthats left after we pull out is to let Iran nuke Israel.
 

Flying_Mollusk

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If everyone pulls out of Iraq now, what do you thin will happen? Al-Qaeda will want to cease violence and enter into negotiations with the west? This is a major victory for radical islam world wide. Because as you recall things starting goign south after the sunni radicals began destroying shiite holy sites. This is the major victory of radicalism over the West. And apparently people are ok with that.

We should not have ever gone itno Iraq, to put ourselves in this position where we can allow our weaknesses to be exposed by radicalism. But now that we're there a defeat, which has not happened yet, would be catastrophic. A near equivalent of USSR's pull out in afghanistan. Al lthats left after we pull out is to let Iran nuke Israel.

General statements like "we can't leave or else the terrorists win" and "we have to stick it out and be patient" don't actually address how this approach is going to resolve the myriad of problems that exist.

It is not just the Sunni radicals. It is the Shi'ite radicals. It is the legitimate Shi'ite radicals that play a role in assisting the radicals. It is the battle for power that always exists in a vacuum of power. How exactly is our troop presence going to resolve this? This is not even close to a conventional army based war. We have little to no clue as to who is good, who is bad, who is corrupt, who is taking advantage of power. The police there are terrible.

I seriously need an explanation as to how a traditional military approach is going to resolve the myriad of problems in that country.

Shiites are starting to rape Sunni women and retribution has been promised. How is our military presence going to resolve this?
Sunnis refuse to surrender power to Shiites. How is our military presence going to resolve this?

Id love an answer for these and many questions.

Of course I don't expect one. Because all we ever here is that if you don't do this, the bad guys win. How many people predicted this nightmare? Go look back 2-3 years ago and you'll see the so called "just hate Bush" crowd was absolutely right. Anyone could predict a civil war could erupt in a power vacuum. And how were these concerns addressed? With the same old platitudes we hear today.

The fact is we have created an out of control beehive that we are trying to stop with handguns. All the while the terrorists are hiding amongsts the beehive we have created. Well done.
 

FutureGM

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I've said this before, but there is no chance that we can do anything to stop the violence there. It's too far gone at this point. The turning point came about a year ago, when a famous Shia mosque was blown up. It's been really downhill since then.

We absolutely need to have U.S. troops either leave or just guard the borders to control the flow of foreign insurgents.

We're probably making the situation worse by generally cracking down on Sunni extremists more than Shi'ite extremists.
 
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If everyone pulls out of Iraq now, what do you thin will happen? Al-Qaeda will want to cease violence and enter into negotiations with the west? This is a major victory for radical islam world wide. Because as you recall things starting goign south after the sunni radicals began destroying shiite holy sites. This is the major victory of radicalism over the West. And apparently people are ok with that.

We should not have ever gone itno Iraq, to put ourselves in this position where we can allow our weaknesses to be exposed by radicalism. But now that we're there a defeat, which has not happened yet, would be catastrophic. A near equivalent of USSR's pull out in afghanistan. Al lthats left after we pull out is to let Iran nuke Israel.

General statements like "we can't leave or else the terrorists win" and "we have to stick it out and be patient" don't actually address how this approach is going to resolve the myriad of problems that exist.

It is not just the Sunni radicals. It is the Shi'ite radicals. It is the legitimate Shi'ite radicals that play a role in assisting the radicals. It is the battle for power that always exists in a vacuum of power. How exactly is our troop presence going to resolve this? This is not even close to a conventional army based war. We have little to no clue as to who is good, who is bad, who is corrupt, who is taking advantage of power. The police there are terrible.

I seriously need an explanation as to how a traditional military approach is going to resolve the myriad of problems in that country.

Shiites are starting to rape Sunni women and retribution has been promised. How is our military presence going to resolve this?
Sunnis refuse to surrender power to Shiites. How is our military presence going to resolve this?

Id love an answer for these and many questions.

Of course I don't expect one. Because all we ever here is that if you don't do this, the bad guys win. How many people predicted this nightmare? Go look back 2-3 years ago and you'll see the so called "just hate Bush" crowd was absolutely right. Anyone could predict a civil war could erupt in a power vacuum. And how were these concerns addressed? With the same old platitudes we hear today.

The fact is we have created an out of control beehive that we are trying to stop with handguns. All the while the terrorists are hiding amongsts the beehive we have created. Well done.


The problem is your questions only address strategic concerns. The fact is lets say the anti war people were right since the beginning. Great. Does nothing to alter my point. The reality is that if the U.S. pulls out, every radical faction that has contested us there will declare victory. And that victory is detrimental to curbing the spread and 'sexiness' of fascioislamic terrorism acroos the globe.

No matter what questions you ask about the role of our military in the conflict, it doesnt change the fact that the pull out will be victory. Perhaps the best way to resolve the issues is through other avenues, but if for nothign else the military needs to stay in to curb the influence of a perceived radicalist victory in that region. So your post does not adress my point at all. Thats the practical reality, we stuck ourselves in a messy situation where staying may nto resolve anythign, but neither will leaving.
 

Flying_Mollusk

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If everyone pulls out of Iraq now, what do you thin will happen? Al-Qaeda will want to cease violence and enter into negotiations with the west? This is a major victory for radical islam world wide. Because as you recall things starting goign south after the sunni radicals began destroying shiite holy sites. This is the major victory of radicalism over the West. And apparently people are ok with that.

We should not have ever gone itno Iraq, to put ourselves in this position where we can allow our weaknesses to be exposed by radicalism. But now that we're there a defeat, which has not happened yet, would be catastrophic. A near equivalent of USSR's pull out in afghanistan. Al lthats left after we pull out is to let Iran nuke Israel.

General statements like "we can't leave or else the terrorists win" and "we have to stick it out and be patient" don't actually address how this approach is going to resolve the myriad of problems that exist.

It is not just the Sunni radicals. It is the Shi'ite radicals. It is the legitimate Shi'ite radicals that play a role in assisting the radicals. It is the battle for power that always exists in a vacuum of power. How exactly is our troop presence going to resolve this? This is not even close to a conventional army based war. We have little to no clue as to who is good, who is bad, who is corrupt, who is taking advantage of power. The police there are terrible.

I seriously need an explanation as to how a traditional military approach is going to resolve the myriad of problems in that country.

Shiites are starting to rape Sunni women and retribution has been promised. How is our military presence going to resolve this?
Sunnis refuse to surrender power to Shiites. How is our military presence going to resolve this?

Id love an answer for these and many questions.

Of course I don't expect one. Because all we ever here is that if you don't do this, the bad guys win. How many people predicted this nightmare? Go look back 2-3 years ago and you'll see the so called "just hate Bush" crowd was absolutely right. Anyone could predict a civil war could erupt in a power vacuum. And how were these concerns addressed? With the same old platitudes we hear today.

The fact is we have created an out of control beehive that we are trying to stop with handguns. All the while the terrorists are hiding amongsts the beehive we have created. Well done.


The problem is your questions only address strategic concerns. The fact is lets say the anti war people were right since the beginning. Great. Does nothing to alter my point. The reality is that if the U.S. pulls out, every radical faction that has contested us there will declare victory. And that victory is detrimental to curbing the spread and 'sexiness' of fascioislamic terrorism acroos the globe.

No matter what questions you ask about the role of our military in the conflict, it doesnt change the fact that the pull out will be victory. Perhaps the best way to resolve the issues is through other avenues, but if for nothign else the military needs to stay in to curb the influence of a perceived radicalist victory in that region. So your post does not adress my point at all. Thats the practical reality, we stuck ourselves in a messy situation where staying may nto resolve anythign, but neither will leaving.

So we leave our troops in the middle of a civil war solely for symbolic purposes? If you agree that leaving the troops there doesn't resolve the problem, then how long should we expect to keep them there? Do we wait 5 years or 10 years just so that the islamofacists can be precluded from any victory? If the entirety of our armed forces being present after an invasion and before any civil war could not stop the islamfacists from gaining the foothold they have now, they how is waiting and waiting for years down the road going to do anything?

The problem with stopping the removal of any troops solely to prevent some symbolic loss is that it refuses to take into account the practical middle ground. How about we remove a large amount of troops and leave enough to train the military and prevent the islamofacists from getting their symbolic victory? In the meanwhile, we refocus those freshly available resources into actually trying to calm the hornets nest down with some diplomacy. Then maybe when they stop killing each other, they can turn on the outside forces trying to destroy their own nation. The dems have proposed keeping troops for counter-terrorism purposes and training purposes only. What is wrong with that?

And yes, I am trying to get at strategic concerns. Don't you think we need an actual strategy to resolve this problem beyond broad and speculative phrases like "surge." Isn't this the military equivilant of demanding that a failing program be kept in place and more money be placed into it?

Frankly I think this is a further indictment of the Bush administration and those that choose to support its policies through anything. They have absolutely no clue how to be administrators or develop good strategy. But they do know that they can create strawman arguments and accuse others of being in favor of surrender(the new relative of being unpatriotic).

And you also MUST reconcile the position we are in right now. You demand victory over islamofacists. Ok, sounds good. So do I. But where does victory come when Islamofacists have established themselves in the very government we have created and are now defending? Al-Sadr is one of the people who is engaging in terrorism. He is not AQ. He has the support of a strong contingency of the Iraqi people. How do we beat him in the traditional sense of a military victory? We keep the troops there for his benefit so that he can say he has not won?
 
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If everyone pulls out of Iraq now, what do you thin will happen? Al-Qaeda will want to cease violence and enter into negotiations with the west? This is a major victory for radical islam world wide. Because as you recall things starting goign south after the sunni radicals began destroying shiite holy sites. This is the major victory of radicalism over the West. And apparently people are ok with that.

We should not have ever gone itno Iraq, to put ourselves in this position where we can allow our weaknesses to be exposed by radicalism. But now that we're there a defeat, which has not happened yet, would be catastrophic. A near equivalent of USSR's pull out in afghanistan. Al lthats left after we pull out is to let Iran nuke Israel.

General statements like "we can't leave or else the terrorists win" and "we have to stick it out and be patient" don't actually address how this approach is going to resolve the myriad of problems that exist.

It is not just the Sunni radicals. It is the Shi'ite radicals. It is the legitimate Shi'ite radicals that play a role in assisting the radicals. It is the battle for power that always exists in a vacuum of power. How exactly is our troop presence going to resolve this? This is not even close to a conventional army based war. We have little to no clue as to who is good, who is bad, who is corrupt, who is taking advantage of power. The police there are terrible.

I seriously need an explanation as to how a traditional military approach is going to resolve the myriad of problems in that country.

Shiites are starting to rape Sunni women and retribution has been promised. How is our military presence going to resolve this?
Sunnis refuse to surrender power to Shiites. How is our military presence going to resolve this?

Id love an answer for these and many questions.

Of course I don't expect one. Because all we ever here is that if you don't do this, the bad guys win. How many people predicted this nightmare? Go look back 2-3 years ago and you'll see the so called "just hate Bush" crowd was absolutely right. Anyone could predict a civil war could erupt in a power vacuum. And how were these concerns addressed? With the same old platitudes we hear today.

The fact is we have created an out of control beehive that we are trying to stop with handguns. All the while the terrorists are hiding amongsts the beehive we have created. Well done.


The problem is your questions only address strategic concerns. The fact is lets say the anti war people were right since the beginning. Great. Does nothing to alter my point. The reality is that if the U.S. pulls out, every radical faction that has contested us there will declare victory. And that victory is detrimental to curbing the spread and 'sexiness' of fascioislamic terrorism acroos the globe.

No matter what questions you ask about the role of our military in the conflict, it doesnt change the fact that the pull out will be victory. Perhaps the best way to resolve the issues is through other avenues, but if for nothign else the military needs to stay in to curb the influence of a perceived radicalist victory in that region. So your post does not adress my point at all. Thats the practical reality, we stuck ourselves in a messy situation where staying may nto resolve anythign, but neither will leaving.

So we leave our troops in the middle of a civil war solely for symbolic purposes? If you agree that leaving the troops there doesn't resolve the problem, then how long should we expect to keep them there? Do we wait 5 years or 10 years just so that the islamofacists can be precluded from any victory? If the entirety of our armed forces being present after an invasion and before any civil war could not stop the islamfacists from gaining the foothold they have now, they how is waiting and waiting for years down the road going to do anything?

The problem with stopping the removal of any troops solely to prevent some symbolic loss is that it refuses to take into account the practical middle ground. How about we remove a large amount of troops and leave enough to train the military and prevent the islamofacists from getting their symbolic victory? In the meanwhile, we refocus those freshly available resources into actually trying to calm the hornets nest down with some diplomacy. Then maybe when they stop killing each other, they can turn on the outside forces trying to destroy their own nation. The dems have proposed keeping troops for counter-terrorism purposes and training purposes only. What is wrong with that?

And yes, I am trying to get at strategic concerns. Don't you think we need an actual strategy to resolve this problem beyond broad and speculative phrases like "surge." Isn't this the military equivilant of demanding that a failing program be kept in place and more money be placed into it?

Frankly I think this is a further indictment of the Bush administration and those that choose to support its policies through anything. They have absolutely no clue how to be administrators or develop good strategy. But they do know that they can create strawman arguments and accuse others of being in favor of surrender(the new relative of being unpatriotic).

And you also MUST reconcile the position we are in right now. You demand victory over islamofacists. Ok, sounds good. So do I. But where does victory come when Islamofacists have established themselves in the very government we have created and are now defending? Al-Sadr is one of the people who is engaging in terrorism. He is not AQ. He has the support of a strong contingency of the Iraqi people. How do we beat him in the traditional sense of a military victory? We keep the troops there for his benefit so that he can say he has not won?


I don't disagree with anything you've stated. However, it is undenialable that there are negative consequences to a troop withdrawal. Al-Sadr is also backed by Iran, which increases the problem. But another factor beign ignored is the why we went into Iraq. The problem is, as I've said since 2003 when it all started, that regardless of the reasons given, the truth is that what we wanted was to have a military presence in the region. Which a large scale withdrawal would reverse. However, that doesn't mean we there is no middle ground. Open a base, train the Iraqi's and get our boys out.
 

FutureGM

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Establishing permanent long-term bases in Iraq is going to make things worse. Not to mention, those facilities will become high-value targets for anyone wanting to attack American interests abroad.
 
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Establishing permanent long-term bases in Iraq is going to make things worse. Not to mention, those facilities will become high-value targets for anyone wanting to attack American interests abroad.

No b/c NOT having bases in Iraq means it would be a total defeat in that war. I agree on your point that they will be high value targets but theres absolutely no evidence as to why permanent bases will 'make things worse'
 

Marlin Nation

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We already have a tremendous military footrprint in the Persian Gulf, we don't need bases in Iraq to prosecute wars in that region.
 
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We already have a tremendous military footrprint in the Persian Gulf, we don't need bases in Iraq to prosecute wars in that region.

Your certainty in arguing that ,eans you haven't thought critically enough about the Iraq situation. It is a very viable and extremely credible position, much more credible than the we're in Iraq for oil position, that we're in Iraq to establish a military power zone between syria and iran. And that was one of biggest reasons we went into Iraq. Personally, I argue that the WMD intel was just a rationale for that true purpose and was not the purpose in and of itself. I dotn care to argue the ethics of that now, simply that your response to the quesiton is negating a great deal of intelligent debate and analysis into the true purpose of this war i nthe first place.
 

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