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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Exaggerating the "rift"?

The headline reads "US general blames Britain for Basra crisis" in this article in the UK's Telegraph.

This is at least the third Telegraph article in a few days highlighting a supposed increase in U.S. criticism of Britian's plans to pull troops out of Iraq. I'm not sure I see what the excitement's all about.

Let's assume:

1. The U.S. doesn't want Britain to leave Iraq.
2. It is the case that withdrawal of major power forces (that's pretty much the U.S. with Britain as an honorary member) will lead to increased violence.
3. Insurgent forces absolutely will increase their attacks as the great powers leave so they can later claim they "drove" them out.

4. Let's also assume that when you have a headline like the one above, you will put the most inflamitory quote possible into the article.

What U.S. Army General Jack Keane said was:

"I think what has happened is that they [the insurgents] know British numbers are going down and see the character of operations is changing,"

and

"They sense it and have got the momentum going. That's what's happening. There is a power play but they know no one is going to interfere with them."

That doesn't seem like "blame" to me. That seems like a reasonable explanation of what we think the enemy is doing. Maybe he isn't so much blaming Britain as he is highlighting the obvious in hopes the British will be forced to publicly accept the reality that if they pull out their troops right now, Basra will become even more screwed up.

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