Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 6, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TIMELINE UPDATE....Britain is edging ever closer to a firm timetable for pulling out of Iraq:

Most British troops should have been withdrawn from Iraq by the summer of 2008 under a phased plan disclosed to The Daily Telegraph yesterday by the most senior Army officer in Baghdad. The first movements could come within weeks, said Lt Gen Nick Houghton.

He detailed the timetable to end months of speculation over when the first of Britain's 8,000 contingent will be brought home.

....The general said a gradual withdrawal needed to begin soon to ensure that the Iraqi people understood that British troops had no intention of staying for ever. "There is a fine line between staying too long and leaving too soon.

Later in the story a Ministry of Defense spokesman is at pains to say that no firm decision has been made and that withdrawal plans depend on the formation of a national unity government. Duly noted. Still, this is about the firmest indication of a timeline yet.

Kevin Drum 9:21 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

This seems like a bullshit announcement. Couple of quotes:

The first movements could come within weeks, said Lt Gen Nick Houghton.

And then:

Gen Houghton said the first step would occur in the next few months when authority for security in Maysan and Muthanna provinces was handed to the Iraqis.

So "movement" within weeks and "the first step" within months - quoted from the same guy.

You think they could issue press releases with a little more competence.

Posted by: pebird on March 6, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Now that the British are standing down, does this mean we have to stand back up again?

Posted by: Stefan on March 6, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Lt. Gen. Nick Houghton: We're getting out while the going's good.

Posted by: Stefan on March 6, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Most British troops should have been withdrawn from Iraq by the summer of 2008 ...

Surely that should read will be, or possibly would have been (if the plan has now been shelved) since we are talking about the summer of 2008?

As in, it hasn't happened yet.

Just saying, you know...

Posted by: floopmeister on March 6, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

....The general said a gradual withdrawal needed to begin soon to ensure that the Iraqi people understood that British troops had no intention of staying for ever. "There is a fine line between staying too long and leaving too soon.

That's quite an understatement. Staying too long and leaving too soon have clearly overlapped.

Posted by: Boronx on March 6, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

You know what they say:

Fish and occupying armies smell after three years.

Posted by: trex on March 6, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, there will be no UK troops in Iraq by summer 2007, the war having been won and so forth.

How will historians describe George Bush's glorious victory, Al?

Posted by: HeavyJ on March 6, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Great news!

Now all I have to do is wait until 2008, and then I can start plotting my attack against the Great Satan! Thank you Political Animal for providing me with such great intel - so I can plan my Terrorist activities. Of course, you'll probably be sent to Gitmo for providing comfort to the enemy, but hey, maybe you'll meet some of my compatriots there, and they'll convert you to Islam, and lend you their urine-stained korans! Allah be praised!

Posted by: Terrorist on March 6, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Vote for Elmo

Posted by: elmo on March 6, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

This must be an example of that famous British dry wit at work. Is the assumption that most of their forces are going to be withdrawn by 2008 supposed to be some cause for celebration? I doubt if John Le Carre will be turning cartwheels when he hears about that. Surely critics in the UK realize that by that time many hundreds of British troops will be killed and hundreds more, like the American troops, will be returning to their country missing limbs, spines severed from their bodies, and many skulls being fractured. That announcement should be enough of an incentive for the anti-war movement in England to try and get Blair thrown out of office.

Posted by: Erroll on March 6, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

As the Iraq democracy stabilizes, Coalition troops, including America's, will start being drawn down. This is the natural fruit of our success. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 6, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Britain is edging ever closer to a firm timetable for pulling out of Iraq

I'm curious... do you lefties ever feel like Charlie Brown? You know, when Lucy keeps pulling that football away? I imagine that's what it feels like, seeing as how we've had this very same story... how many times over the past few years?

Posted by: Al on March 6, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

Warning: Wandering far afield

Surely that should read will be, or possibly would have been (if the plan has now been shelved) since we are talking about the summer of 2008?

No, I think "should have been" is quite appropriate (it, at least, seems clear and communicative); where "shall" expresses a promise and "will" expresses a prediction, "should" expresses a probability or expectation. "Would" be appropriate, I think, with an express condition ("If the plan were followed, most troops would be withdrawn by summer 2008.")

Using "Under a plan...should have been" seems to express uncertainty in the plan, such as possible allowance for unforseen circumstance, where as "under a plan...will be" would suggest firmness, and "under a plan...shall be" would seem most appropriate if the writer was promising that implementation of the plan would result in removing the troops (it would also be appropriate if the writer was issuing a command, but only if the intended audience were the ones to whom the command was directed.)

Then again, the fairly complex reductions of the conditions for use of "shall", "should", "will", etc., in English in to prescriptive rules may disallow the use here, in at least one of the conflicting versions floating around. I'm pretty sure the accepted formal standard in the UK and the US are different here, and not all that closely followed in practice in either place -- but, outside of works of formal logic, good communicative writing involves as much knowing where the attempts to bottle up language in prescriptivist rules are helpful, and where they are obstacles to communication, and the breezing right by them in the latter cases.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

There is a fine line between staying too long and leaving too soon.

Yes, it's just 3 or 4 years one way or the other, and you get it wrong.

Posted by: craigie on March 6, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

The Brits never leave without poisoning the well.

I wonder what have they planted in Iraq. A full scale shia sunni conflagration?

Posted by: lib on March 6, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Should I understand that British Halliburton isn't building permanent bases for the Tommies? And we'll have to man the 12 or 14 bases all by our lonesome without partners? And what will we do when the Iraqi government asks, then tells us to leave? ( I guess the last depends on whether they ask/tell while W is still in office or after Wes Clark is inaugurated.

Posted by: Brian Boru on March 7, 2006 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

why does Great Britain hate America?

Posted by: northzax on March 7, 2006 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Those indispensable 8,000 British troops...what would we do without them?

Posted by: Jimm on March 7, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

The Brits never leave without poisoning the well.

Well, that's a little harsh. I mean, I know the American colonies are in a hell of a state now, but we've been gone for more than 200 years - I think you have to take some of the blame yourselves.

More seriously, I wonder how this ties into the story over the weekend that "defence chiefs" had admitted privately that the withdrawal would take place in 2007, with small drawdowns over the next 12 months and a final withdrawal in summer '07?
The losses are, frankly, unlikely to be a factor in the decision: we've had more troops in Northern Ireland than Iraq throughout the occupation, and took heavier losses during the Troubles than we have been in Iraq. (Only 103 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq.) But the sheer effort of training, deploying and sustaining the garrisons has been pretty severe.

Jimm, if you think the coalition has a single soldier in Iraq who is surplus to requirements, say so, but I warn you that you are in a very small minority.

Posted by: ajay on March 7, 2006 at 5:32 AM | PERMALINK

'The Troubles' indeed.

Imported Dutch ruler of England decides Ireland would be more profitable to the Crown with a 'Plantation' of Protestant Scots. Dispossesses locals by main and bloody force. Disenfranchises locals and forces them to fork over taxes to support Protestant churches. Enforced by brutal occupation by British troops.

Three centuries or so later - still determined to keep 'six counties under John Bull's tyranny'.

Lovely. Just bloody lovely.

Posted by: CFShep on March 7, 2006 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, you'll probably be sent to Gitmo for providing comfort to the enemy, but hey, maybe you'll meet some of my compatriots there

Posted by: alfredo on March 7, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

(sigh) I really don't want to get into an argument about Ulster right now - this thread is supposed to be about Iraq - but here's a brief current events lecture. A majority of the population of the province wants the province to remain part of the UK. As long as that remains the case, it will remain part of the UK. When a majority of the population votes for union with the Republic of Ireland instead, that's what will happen.
Unlike in Iraq, where, it seems, the coalition troops are staying even though 80% of the population wants them out.
Incidentally, among your many, many solecisms, CFShep, I notice that you seem to think the Catholic Disenfranchisement and the Plantation of Ulster both happened under William III. You are, of course, crashingly wrong, on a "Abraham Lincoln was at the Yalta Conference" scale of wrongness. Read a book.

Posted by: ajay on March 7, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Read a book.

Indeed. Have done, old boy.

Patronize someone else, dearie. That the Ulster Plantation was created as a Crown Colony is most certainly not a solecism.

I will admit to being a tad breezy in summing up the unfortunate consequences of this particular little royal exercise in colonialism.

I am quite well aware that the Catholic Disenfranchisement did not occur under the brief tenure of the House of Orange.

I've written papers on the issue.

Posted by: CFShep on March 7, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

I've written papers on the issue.

I don't believe you. Or: if you have, then they weren't very good papers. You wrote five sentences on the history of Northern Ireland, and included two glaring errors of fact, and a huge amount of emotive bias and antiquated claptrap like "John Bull's tyranny".
And then, in your second post, you use the phrase "Crown Colony", a term with a very specific meaning, which does not include and has never included any part of Ireland.

It may be that "breezy" is an Americanism. Over here we use the phrase "talking bollocks".

I'll stop patronising you when you stop being so obviously wrong.

I apologise to the rest of the thread for taking this seriously, but bad history gets good people killed. Especially when it's bad Irish history, believed by Americans.

Posted by: ajay on March 7, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, you'll probably be sent to Gitmo for providing comfort to the enemy, but hey, maybe you'll meet some of my compatriots there, and they'll convert you to Islam

Posted by: jimi on March 8, 2006 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly