... but in what shape? And was it worth it?
The British news is pondering those questions, as its military forces prepare to leave Iraq by mid 2009.Britain prepares to leave Iraq
December 17th, 2008 | Posted by: Reuters Staff | By Luke Baker in Basra
It may not be the end-game Britain was hoping for when it ventured into Iraq, but it’s the end of the game nonetheless.
By the end of next May, almost exactly six years after 42,000 British troops joined the U.S.-led invasion and overthrew Saddam Hussein, Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Britain’s remaining 4,100 troops will be out of Iraq and his country’s role in the war over.
The overwhelming question, after 2,200 days of conflict and 178 soldiers killed, not to mention the thousands seriously wounded and the vast sums of money expended, is clearly: was it all worth it in the end?
Come mid-2009, when the last British military convoys are likely to be pulling out of Iraq, even British diplomats admit they don’t expect Iraqis to lay on parades in their honour.
It may not quite be good riddance from Iraq, and Britain may not have to leave with its tail between its legs, but by the same token it may be difficult for the military to leave with its head held high knowing the job had been well done.
I like this quote from and Irish newspaper
. It makes you think that it wasn't worth it, because in the end, Iraq was not left in good shape.
Iraqi commanders and officials accused the British of handing Basra over to the Sadr supporters and other Shia fundamentalist elements that have expelled most Christians and Sunnis.
While security has improved since the Iraqi army, backed by US units, drove out the Mahdi army last spring, the city's infrastructure is devastated, unemployment is rife, the number of honour killings of women is increasing, criminal violence continues, and problems with electricity and drinking water have not been resolved.
Most citizens of Basra are eager to see the British depart.
And then there is this about what it means to Britain's economy and international relations.Iraq: the Lessons
Britain never gave its forces in Iraq the backing they needed. On leaving in May they will have accomplished less than had been promised
They numbered, at their peak, more than 45,000. They have been fighting in Iraq for longer than the duration of the Second World War, at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £5 billion. But when the last contingent of 4,100 British troops pulls out of their base at Basra airport in May, they will leave behind a war that has taken a heavy toll on Britain's standing in the Middle East, on Anglo-American relations and on the reputation of Britain's Armed Forces.
£5 billion is $7.8 billion USD.
The article notes this grim prospect: "... US forces will now have to deploy their own troops to the south to secure vital supply lines."
Also makes one think about Bush, as he tries to get ahead of the criticism he'll inevitably hear once he exits the US presidency.