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September 23, 2005

Exodus

Texas isn’t the only place everyone wants to leave right now:

Diplomats in the [British] Foreign Office are working frantically in private on what they refer to as the “exit ticket” from Iraq.
In contrast to the official line that British forces will remain until the job is done, the Foreign Office wants to engineer a set of circumstances in which both Britain and the US can begin to reduce troops next year. But the speed with which unrest and violence is growing is making this harder.
Ambitions for Iraq are being drastically scaled down in private. A Foreign Office source said the goal of the US administration to turn Iraq into a beacon of democracy in the Middle East had long ago been shelved. “We will settle for leaving behind an Iraqi democracy that is creaking along,” the source said.
… Before the war, Washington saw Iraq not only as a likely beacon for democracy but also as potentially a stable source of oil and a well-positioned strategic base. Reflecting lowered expectations, the source said the priority for withdrawal was merely that “George Bush is not seen to have failed. He will have to have at least set Iraq on the road to democracy”.
… The “drawdown” of troops would be done in stages, and the US wants to keep four air bases in Iraq. But this is not part of some strategic plan for mastery of the Middle East. The Foreign Office plays it down, saying the bases are less important than those in Gulf states such as Qatar and Bahrain. Like its other ambitions for Iraq, the US has scaled down this plan and Britain is happily backing it, in the hope of an early exit.

Posted by Stephen at 3:29 PM in War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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