Troops leave Basra … Brown eyes November Election

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Comment at end of page

5th October, 2007

WILL BROWN REALLY CUT & RUN? 

Listen to this Radio 4 interview of Blair ally, Baroness Morgan from the Today programme, just as Blair left office. In the last few moments of the interview, she makes it clear that Brown was closely involved with all the planning around the Iraq invasion decision. She said it was important for Blair that Brown was on board with him for ALL of this. And he was.

Can GB/PM really still claim to be ‘integrity personified’ if he, for electoral/ populist reasons now decides to withdraw?

I don’t think so.

2nd October, 2007

1000 TROOPS OUT BY CHRISTMAS

In Iraq today Brown has declared that we will be withdrawing 1000 troops from Basra by the end of the year. The phased withdrawal that Blair started over a year ago goes on. I won’t comment much on this except to say that in this will-he-or-won’t he season the gauntlet has been passed clearly to Mr Cameron.

 

2nd September, 2007

TROOPS OUT OF BASRA? – Well, Yes & No

[Changed the title at the top of this page back to roughly what it was when I started this page – Oct/Nov General Election for Brown.]

Cynicism personified, that’s me in my new role!

550 troops out of Saddam’s Palace – 5,500 still to leave Iraq

It’s being announced with a flourish, as though it was unexpected, or almost as though they were all coming HOME, now that GB is PM. But it’s ben on the cards since we first started deploying in 2003. Mr Blair heralded this steady departure months before he left office. Time will tell, but why do I have this feeling of unease about the people of Basra, their half-trained army, the American fallout regarding the trans-atlantic relationship, and the whole mission?

Something to do with GB/PM’s election timetable?

Tonight British troops are quitting the southern Iraqi city of Basra in another step towards handing over the province to Iraqi control and paving the way for an eventual withdrawal of British forces from Iraq. A British Ministry of Defence source in London said troops were pulling out of Basra Palace, which was built for Saddam Hussein, in the city centre and withdrawing to the vast British airbase on the outskirts of the city. There they will join the other 5,000 troops, guarding the British exit point.Quite how complete is this withdrawal, we can’t be sure, as British troops will provide an “overwatch role” as they prepare to hand over control of Basra province to the Iraqi army as early as next month.

British forces, however, will remain in an “overwatch role” and continue training Iraqi security forces as well as guard key land supply routes from neighbouring Kuwait. Britain has already handed over three other provinces in southern Iraq. Some 500 troops had been based at the palace, which was bombarded daily by mortar and rocket fire. The withdrawal from the palace will lead to the reduction in the number of British soldiers in Iraq to about 5,000. All are based at the airbase, which is also attacked daily.

Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, is strategically vital as the hub of southern oil fields that produce nearly all of the government’s revenue, and the centre of imports and exports through the Gulf. It has witnessed a turf war between rival Shi’ite groups, including supporters of fiery cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and smaller Fadhila party, mainly for political supremacy and control of illegal oil traffic. While residents say there is now a fragile calm between the rival groups, there are fears that the British withdrawal will be accompanied by an upsurge in factional violence.

Read BBC report on troops withdrawal

Watch Video report

“MISUNDERSTANDING over withdrawal”, says Cordingley

Providing, perhaps, a more balanced judgement on the “withdrawal”, Major General Patrick Cordingley, an army commander in the last Gulf War, says that the pullback to the Basra airport would have been agreed with the Americans and the Iraqis.

“The Mehdi army ceasefire has provided a window of opportunity for something we have been waiting to do for some time. Army morale is extremely high. Rockets have stopped hitting the Palace and airport in the last few weeks so there is a certain element that we might have achieved something – so let’s get on with the next stage, which was always planned.”

Listen to Cordingley interview.

So it’s not all doom and gloom after all, and PM/GB hasn’t single-handedly saved the British squaddie from Blair!

Still, for some the blame game goes on apace, as both sides of the partners across the pond moan about the lack of guts or planning or both. American and British generals are at each other’s throats, whilst still gnawing with unsatisfiable relish at those of the already departed Blair and Rumsfeld.

And some in the USA believe that the Iraqi forces being handed over by the British are neither trustworthy or dependable.

Gen Jack Keane, architect of the US “surge”, said the British are more focused on training Iraqi troops than controlling “deteriorating” security.

He added that there is a “general disengagement” by UK forces in Basra.

Meanwhile, the US military’s deputy commander in Iraq said Britain was on track to hand over responsibility to Iraqi forces in Basra later this year.

So after all Blair’s principled and politically punishing work in alliance with America on behalf of freedom from fundamentalist terrorism, I for one struggle to feel completely convinced by this move. And Menzies Campbell’s half-apologetic tones tonight of self-satisfaction, as though the cat had finally got the cream and then realised it was allergic to milk products, only serve to make me feel that MY instincts might be the right ones.

And I wonder, with word out that a complete withdrawal “MAY happen within the next few months”, what are the odds on Mr GB/PM calling an Autumn election soon?

7th August, 2007

VIEW AL QAEDA VIDEO THREATENING FOREIGN DIPLOMATS & EMBASSIES IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD

American Al Qaeda member issues video threat to United States & other “foreigners”.

As on YouTube

“We shall continue to target you, at home and abroad in the same way just as you continue to target us, at home and abroad. And these spy dens and military command and control centres from which you plotted your aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and which still provide vital moral military material and logistical support to the crusade shall continue to be legitimate targets for brave muslims like our martyred brother Osman until and unless you heed our demands, stop the crusade and leave the muslims alone.”

View full video here Read comprehensive report on Al Qaeda’s use of the internet

CAIRO, Egypt — An American member of Al Qaeda threatened foreign diplomats and embassies in the Islamic world calling them “spy dens” in the terror network’s latest video released on Sunday.

The 1 hour, 17 minute-long video also featured a computer animated recreation of a March 2006 suicide attack that killed U.S. diplomat David Foy in Karachi, Pakistan and testimony from a man who claimed to be the bomber.

“We shall continue to target you, at home and abroad, just as you target us, at home and abroad, and these spy dens and military command and control centers from which you plotted your aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Adam Gadahn, also known as Azzan al-Amriki.

 

1st August, 2007

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

On Brown’s visit to the USA he touched on the relationship with Blair. Also Darfur, international terrorism, British Iraq mistakes over the intelligence, how it is compiled within government, US mistakes over reconstruction, “it could have moved a lot more quickly.” He said he was not going to look backwards, “my job is to look forwards.” But, he said, if we were not in Afghanistan the Taleban would be controlling the whole government. He said that the allies should commit in numbers to Afghanistan.

Er, yes … so what exactly has Mr Blair NOT said in all of that?

GB/PM also said that Blair is “working night and day on his big job” in the Middle East.

Asked if he was Lennon or McCartney, he said there was always an argument between Lennon & McCartney as to who wrote the most songs!

What an interesting throwback to policy making, control, power and direction. And if it was anything near equal, why, I ask again, is only Blair to blame for the ‘bad’ stuff, while Brown gets plaudits for the ‘good’?

Still it seems the Brothers B are in ‘regular touch’ and are singing from the same hymn sheet. It’s likely to be a Long and Winding Road for both. Let’s hope neither ends up as a Nowhere Man.

NBC’s video and take on first Bush & Brown meeting.

Britain will decide whether to withdraw by autumn. Really? – “we have duties to discharge & responsibilities to keep”.

No?

 

 

29th July, 2007

BUSH IN THE DRIVING SEAT (With Passenger Brown)

VALUES – IT’S ALL ABOUT VALUES – AGAIN

I was under the impression that it was due to Iraq that we lost our great previous primebushblair_2001_buddies.jpg minister. You remember, the one who shared the same values as our American cousins; who felt we needed to stand firm next to our strongest bi-lateral partner; who also saw terrorism as the greatest threat facing the world today? So how come our present prime minister is saying the same things? Wasn’t he elected (BY THE LABOUR PARTY) to say and do something different?

I need to know why exactly it was buggin’s turn? I’m still waiting for the answers.

[Pic: Bush & Blair, 2001 – forging a close relationship, to be seared in the heat of battle]

Watch full coverage of the Bush/Brown press conference in Camp David today. Brown summoned up the spirit of Churchill while affirming our “shared values”. So nothing new there then. Except perhaps that others mentioned Churchill in relation to our previous prime minister, not the previous leader himself!

Read the transcript of their press conference including questions and answers.

Brown: “Terrorism is not a cause, it is a crime. In Iraq we have duties to discharge and responsibilities to keep”.

Bush: “Britain is our most important bi-lateral relationship.”

I noticed that although Bush praised Brown, this personal praise was NOT reciprocated.

bushindrivingseat_brown29july07.jpg

I don’t necessarily accept that it was all thought-through; the business of Bush driving Brown around in his golf buggy just as Brown had landed at Camp David. (Can’t recall if he did the same thing with Blair.) But since symbolism search is the big thing, what struck me was this:

The President did a 360 degrees spin with the buggy as Brown hung on to the side. Wasn’t trying to unseat him, was he? Just asking – since unseating is quite the thing these days.

[Pic above: “Smile Gordon – this is fun!” “This is not in the script you maniacal driver!] brownbush1st_expressions_468x590_30july07_crop1.jpg

A MEETING OF MINDS?

And while we’re on to symbolism, Bush, who is known to be very straight and not too good at hiding how he feels, didn’t seem to be quite as taken with Brown as vice-versa as Brown landed in Camp David. Body language was certainly cooler from Bush than it was between Bush & Blair; eye contact?

(Click to go back to photo of Blair & Bush’s first meeting above.)

And this report from a CNN British/Europe reporter seems to spell out the problems.

Excerpt:

“Yet the overarching theme is rapport – and establishing some.

Bush is aiming for at least a solid relationship with Brown, shaped around their nations’ mutual interests.

That much is expected, but it is far from the kinship Bush had with Brown’s predecessor, Tony Blair, who lost favor at home because of his close ties to Bush.”

What I want to know is what exactly is GB/PM going to do differently about Iraq compared to TB/PM. Very little I should imagine. So will the party and antis be up in arms to remove GB? Don’t hold your breath.

Read full article

 

 

 

17th July, 2007

GALLOWAY SUSPENDED FROM COMMONS

Unfortunately it wasn’t from the rafters. His “enemies” couldn’t really be bothered making the effort, since he’s so good at doing the job himself.

GEORGE GALLOWAY LIED OVER IRAQ

I ENJOYED writing that! I really did. This person, a RESPECT MP has spent much of his ‘political life’ slamming Tony Blair as a liar (and war criminal), with NO IDEA how it feels to be at the receiving end of such personal and political attacks, proven or unproven. Certain of his own ‘facts’, sure all on the other side ‘lie’ in relation to Iraq, he must be consumed by the juices of his own self-indulgency and fantasies.galloway17july07.jpg

Come now, George, just lie down on that sofa and we’ll go through it.

I know the Labour party expelled you; well, they didn’t UNDERSTAND Iraq , did they?

And I know you shook Saddam’s hand and felt he was being badly treated by the evil west; well, they DID remove him in the end, so you might have been right here. And YOU didn’t take any money from him!

And I know that all you wanted to do was to show that YOUR motivation to help the poor people in Iraq was good and honest, yes, good and honest, unlike those of Blair & Bush; that’s why you tried to conceal the true source of funding for your Mariam appeal. Questioning the integrity of the standards watchdog didn’t exactly endear you though.

Take some lessons from your deadly enemy, Mr Blair. On HIS departure this ‘murderous, evil arch-war-criminal’ got a heartfelt round of applause even from (sensible) opponents. Why? Because he has been one of the ‘nicest’ members in Parliament, and because he is an honest, good and courteous man. Try it, George, if you can work out how to do it. It might even change you – though I somehow doubt it.

Oh and a little P.S. – you’re the man who would find it a “moral dilemma” to inform the authorities if you knew about an assassination plot against Mr Blair, are you not? And why would it be so difficult? (I’d tell them, if it was about you; I think!!)

Well, you would find it difficult because if such terrorists succeeded, that ‘success’ would lead to further loss of civil liberties for those from the salient community. My GOD!

Still, at least you can be content that Blair is out for good and not just 18 days! And HIS nous and political abilities don’t compare to yours. Nope, they certainly don’t.

 

 

16th July, 2007

GENERAL ELECTION STANDBY?

So Labour is already working on their manifesto, to be ready for the party conference in September. Wonder why? Perhaps something to do with their good poll results at the moment. Perhaps something to do with the Tories’ problems. Probably both. So, you never know, the election might just be in November. Although that might be TOO soon, leaving it until the spring might be too late. Minimise the room for error, Mr GB/PM – you KNOW it makes sense.

1st July, 2007

BROWN’S OWN MANDATE

Today’s Telegraph has some news about the likely time of the next general election. Could be a year from now – could be sooner! As I wrote below six weeks ago, if Brown wants to take advantage of his early bounce and the Tories’ disarray, it’ll have to be before Christmas. After then, the position gets steadily weaker. Brown’s crown will start to slip, as people realise he is no real change from Blair; Cameron’s party will have got back in line after lurching right and then left for a bit; and Blair will have started sorting out the world. He will have started to rebuild his reputation, saving Africa and the Middle East.

Some of our own electorate might even want him to come back and save us!

You may not have much time, Mr Brown.

 

20 May, 2007

General Election – 1st November 2007

Mark it in your diary – straight after the party conferences – four weeks, or so, and Gordon Brown will have his own mandate for another five years.

At a leadership hustings today Mr Brown said he accepted that Iraq was a “divisive and difficult” issue but said that he remained firm in his resolve that the right decisions were made when the UK entered the war.

He said the government was working with the people of Iraq to enable them to run their own security, but did not place a timescale on when British involvement might end.

So though “the right decisions were made when the UK entered the war” he did not close the door on the possibility that the time might NOW be right time for a different decision to be made.

In his manifesto for the November general election, Brown will promise to withdraw ALL troops from Iraq, starting immediately Labour is returned to office. The fact that such a withdrawal is underway and has been for some time, under Blair, will be missed on most of us, with the help of press headlines such as:

BROWN BREAKS WITH BLAIR ON IRAQ

“BLAIR WAS WRONG”, SAYS BROWN

“AT LAST! THEY’RE COMING HOME”

“PEACE AT LAST!”

“BROWN DAMNS BLAIR’S BLOODY LEGACY”

Etcetera

So in the election the Tories may have a little trouble taking a stance on the Iraq issue as this is a hard one for them to call. Still, with an eye on the popular vote, they will persuade themselves that the time is right to agree with Brown. So that’s ONE policy sorted.

And this despite initially supporting Blair’s call into Iraq, and despite their natural pre-disposition understand better than many in Blair’s party his argument for facing down the foe NOW rather than allowing their strength to grow.

So, knowing that the USA will need to finish the job on their own, the Tories are likely to shrug their collective shoulders and stand too on an out-of-Iraq ticket. They don’t want to be associated TOO much with Mr Blair, after all. They’ve already cloned their leader from him; don’t want his every policy too. Especially the DIFFICULT ones.

And of course, expediency has a more pressing claim than principle in politics, has it not?

The Liberal Democrats will have no problem with this issue. They remain anti war and so, in the event of a hung parliament will be honour-bound to support Brown’s Labour party.

Brown reckons he cannot lose

Brown is drunk with power and like most abstainers just can’t handle it.

And as for concern over our old friend the USA – well, they’ll come around. Short of friends these days, where else are they going to turn for inter-governmental co-operation?

Brown already reckons the writing is on the wall for Bush’s stay in Iraq, anyway. And our soon-to-be PM wants to forge a new alliance with Europe now that he will be looking on the EU in a different light in his new guise as PM.

Blair’s hands (and feet) are tied, and he is about to be buried under the sands of Iraq along with the parts of his legacy, chief amongst these Iraq itself, which don’t serve the purposes of Brown (co-founder though he is of all that is New Labour). The fact that this disposable legacy owes much of its parentage to ALL of this present Labour government and to Brown as well as Blair, will be lost in time.

So with this *news from sources* what to do?

No-one now can challenge Brown’s leadership succession – the date has passed. And we, the people, have no say.

There is only one choice left to Blair if the Britain’s Iraq project is not in danger of going down in history as a dismal and bloody failure, defeat dragged from the jaws of victory, and a shameful retreat, the precursor to terrorism writ large, worldwide. (Assuming, that is, that Bush on his own, cannot succeed.)

Blair knows that his departure under this kind of reneging by Brown could leave the country and the world open to burgeoning untrammeled terrorism, and Iraq a task incomplete.

Blair must withdraw his resignation, declare a national emergency, and form a national government

He should then launch a full-on campaign of action at home, if necessary including military action, to rid our country of the elements of barbarism and fundamentalism which threaten us.

In order to avoid Human Rights issues, which will leap down his throat from all the law courts in the land and from the EU, the ‘state of war’ which he must declare under national emergency legislation will remain until we are rid of the homegrown elements of terror and until Iraq is ready to take its rightful place as a land of free peoples.

That’ll give us a couple more years

 

DISCLAIMER:
[This national emergency stuff above is fiction; written in honour of today’s papers whose writers know so much about everything that it wouldn’t surprise me if they keep Downing Street informed as to what’s happening next in politics.]

P.S. If any of this happens please don’t blame me.

My *sources* are a writer’s imagination and the joy of living in interesting times.



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2 Responses to “Troops leave Basra … Brown eyes November Election”

  1. Tony Jarrett Says:

    Indie carries wise opinion column, Shock! Horror!

    http://comment.independent.co.uk/columnists_m_z/joan_smith/article2733217.ece

  2. keeptonyblairforpm Says:

    Now don’t get carried away, Tony – wisdom from the Indie, might be stretching the imagination! That’s only ONE of their columnists. I don’t reckon they’re all idiots. Only the paper’s editor!

    Discovering “our values” at THIS stage is more a recognition that THEY have been getting it and Blair wrong – only they will NOT say so. Lily livered …

    OUR VALUES?

    What has Blair been saying for years? This terrorism is “an attack on OUR VALUES”. Or was that GB?PM (YOUR man, the other day)?

    It was BOTH, of course. So since GB/PM said it most recently, and HE’S the flavour of the month, the Indie now can add value to it by repeating it.

    VALUE? From the Indie? Don’t make me laugh …

    That self-righteous, opinionated rag still makes me sick.

    I should be tempted to be all kind and understanding and use phrases such as “better late than never” or “conversion on the road to Damascus”. But the idea of using that moderate language towards what is meant to be a responsible newspaper is HUGELY IRRITATING! Just can’t do it. THEY almost single-handedly trashed Blair as a liar, war mongerer and worst of all a war criminal! About OUR MAN whose interventionist approach has been highly acclaimed and, whenever HE was the leading force, highly successful – Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland.

    BLAIR – AHEAD OF THE PACK

    Now, as far as Iraq is concerned, where it is clear he did NOT have full and sole control of the policy, but knew he had to trust the Americans – rather than being thanked for being ahead of the pack and willing to lay down his career for his country and world peace – that bloody paper vilified him.

    INDIE ARTICLE EXCERPT:

    “Ten years ago, Tony Blair came to power with a belief that his government would be able to cut a political deal with Republicans and Loyalists in Northern Ireland; protracted negotiations resulted in the Good Friday agreement, and the laying down of guns and bombs. That option does not exist with Islamic extremists, who want not just the withdrawl of British troops from Iraq but a whole raft of things – segregation of the sexes, sharia law, an end to secular culture – which we cannot negotiate away in the name of security. In recent days, watching people go about their business good-naturedly in London despite the threat of terrorist attacks, I have a sense that the public understands this. We have to stand up for our values, and that means that this time we are in for the long haul.”

    ” … IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL” – who said that? TB/PM AND GB/PM. So that’s all right again then?

    Blair has moved on and is already ahead of them all now. If anyone can see through the mess that is the Middle East, he can. But unless he gets it right, the Indie will be at his throat again.

    In journalism, you can spout forth – it’s all opinion anyway – only words, right or wrong. In daily life we can make mistakes – at work and in relationships. But if you are in politics, you are presumed superhuman. Make a mistake or misjudgement and you are toast.

    THE INDIE deserves to be collectively strung up!

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