Terroristes Sans Frontières
The time has come to withdraw from Iraq. This was the message of a British sailor now in Iranian custody, according to its media. The Iraqi Slogger reports:
A second letter allegedly written by a UK sailor in Iranian custody has been broadcast on Iranian state television. In the letter, the sailor calls for the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq, according to an al-Hurra report in Arabic, saying that "the time has come" for a UK withdrawal.
The kidnapping of fifteen British sailors by Iran has inadvertently given the public a glimpse of what it means to "negotiate" with the Ayatollahs. It is also an illustration of how safe it is to stay on "your" side of the border, such as for example within the sovereign territory of a United States embassy, or manning an outpost on the Israeli side of Lebanese border, sleeping in a housing unit in the Khobar towers, visiting a friendly Yemeni port, keeping a watch on smugglers in Iraqi waters while in a British naval vessel and -- in case anyone still remembers -- going to work in Manhattan on an autumn day.
One of the problems with assuming that a withdrawal from Iraq -- to Kurdistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or as Congressman Murtha once suggested -- to Okinawa will end hostilities is it presumes a certain conventionality: that once you have "stopped" fighting by signing some agreement; or that by withdrawing past some map border you will be safe.
The campaign in Afghanistan clearly shows that maps mean nothing to terrorists. The al-Qaeda, driven from one "country" simply moved to the neighboring country. The only ones who respected international boundaries were the Americans. For al-Qaeda the "international" border means security for their side in Waziristan but it certainly provides no safety for Coalition forces in "Afghanistan" from their attacks, except as provided by the Coalition's own defenses. A purely legal border, like the Iran-Iraq demarcation in the Shatt-al-arab is a one way street. It's a geographical "Geneva Convention", entirely asymmetrical. It doesn't keep the Iranians from crossing over to kidnap British sailors, but it does keep the Royal Navy from setting out in pursuit of captive Tars. Of course, the manifest inutility of borders doesn't deter anyone from claiming that a withdrawal from Anbar into Kurdistan will take troops "out of harm's way". It will do no such thing. In all probability Kurdistan will become a battlefield within three months of a withdrawal by troops seeking shelter in it. And any thinking Kurd should have nothing to do with it. Hosting a post-modern defensive force that will be ordered to cringe is a poor alliance. Better to defend yourself with arms of your own than rely on modern armies under the command of nerveless Western politicians. Of course America and Britain could retreat all the way home and build a wall against forcible entry. But, that will be criticized as "illegal" and probably as "immoral" too.