After Saddam Hussein was overthrown in April 2003, British forces took control of the region, and the cosmopolitan port city of Basra thrived with trade, arts and universities.I have a different recollection: After they got to the south, the British troops invested a tremendous amount of energy in looking the other way, as Iran piled manpower and arms across the border into Iraq. The British were repeatedly warned that this method of peacekeeping would backfire.
But you wouldn't know any of that from reading today's front page Washington Post report by Ricks and De Young:
"The British have basically been defeated in the south," a senior U.S. intelligence official said recently in Baghdad. They are abandoning their former headquarters at Basra Palace, where a recent official visitor from London described them as "surrounded like cowboys and Indians" by militia fighters.Yes yes all very tragic but the most the US could do was wait for the British to throw in the towel. There was no giving them orders -- and anyhow, I doubt the previous US commander would have read the riot act to the British under any circumstances.