It cannot be a defence of British policy that the war was unpopular at home. Our mission was to provide security for the Iraqi people, and in that the US and Maliki’s government have recently had marked success and we have failed. The fault does not lie with our fighters. They have been extremely brave and as effective as their orders and their equipment would allow.
It raises questions about the stamina of our nation and the resolve of our political class. It is an uncomfortable conclusion that Britain, with nuclear weapons, cruise missiles, aircraft carriers and the latest generation of fighter-bombers, is incapable of securing a medium-size conurbation. Making Basra safe was an essential part of the overall strategy; having committed ourselves to our allies we let them down.
The extent of Britain’s fiasco has been masked by the media’s relief that we are at last leaving Iraq. Those who have been urging Britain to quit are not in a strong position to criticise the government’s lack of staying power. Reporting of Basra has mainly focused on British casualties and the prospect for withdrawal. The British media and public have shown scant regard for our failure to protect Iraqis, so the British nation, not just its government, has attracted distrust. We should reflect on what sort of country we have become. We may enjoy patronising Americans but they demonstrate a fibre that we now lack.
The saddest part as far as I’m concerned is this: we Americans needn’t be too smug about that “fibre” that we supposedly have, and our English cousins lack. We’re on the same road to second-rate power status that Britain is; it’s just that they started the journey sooner, and are thus further along.
But the lead elements of the dismal convoy — the media and intellectual elites, faux-pacifist, weak-willed, self-loathing progressivists all — are exactly the same smug, spineless twats here as there. Rigidly convinced of their own enlightened righteousness, having abandoned the very idea of reporting the news honestly in favor of a fatuous change-the-world agenda, they fully intend to lead us to the same sorry pass.
All the slick hardware and tough, well-trained fighting men and women in the world amount to nothing if we lack the will and faith in our system to unite behind a national decision to use them, and support them and their mission accordingly. Sapping that will and faith has been the elite’s mission for years; they’ve been appallingly successful, here as there. The end result must and will be the same.
But hey, fret not, folks; once Mr Hopeychange comes riding in to Washington on his magic unicorn, the world will love us again, we’ll have no more enemies or adversaries, and all will be well. If there was ever a perfect example of the kind of juvenile wishful thinking that’s going to guarantee the rudest of awakenings for us, that would have to be it. And more than half the damned country has bought into that forlorn dream, with eyes wide shut.
The best any sensible person can hope for at this point is that we aren’t slapped awake from it too late to avert total disaster. I wouldn’t be willing to risk even the most piffling sum betting on it, myself.