Losing my timing
Weekend reading from the NYT. With the Mahdi Army in full flight, the lessons of Basra are being examined: was there too little British involvement? Or too much? Which view is correct?
During those years, many resentful Basrawis say, the British were involved in a war that was deeply unpopular back home, and therefore had no stomach for sustaining the casualties necessary to restore order.
“I have been very frustrated at the British,” said Brig. Gen. Edan Jaber, a police commander in Basra. He said the British “gave a high priority to their own security” and “were not forceful with the cases they faced in the street.”
The viewpoint for the other side is:
“There’s no doubt that for some parts of the community, we are as much part of the problem as the solution,” Lt. Col. Patrick Sanders, the British commander of the Fourth Battalion of the Rifles Regiment said last July. “We need to leave. There is no question about it. The only way that you can solve the problems of Basra is with an Iraqi solution.”
Only minutes before, a Mahdi Army mortar attack had forced him and his men to drop to the ground at the riverside Basra Palace headquarters, a site they would soon evacuate.
He added: “As long as we are here the Iraqi security forces are far less inclined to confront the militias,” because “the militias will then see them in the same way that people might have seen the Vichy government in France.”
There are a number of analysts who will argue that for Iraq to succeed, America must remove its presence. Whichever side of the issue one takes, there remains the matter of timing. It is said that every defeated general utters two words: "too late". It is also possible for them them to lament, "too early".
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