October 25, 2007

Are America’s foremost European Allies letting her down?

... the surge is in fact, buying sufficient time for political processes to gain some momentum regrettably however, America's foremost allies are retreating just when needed most.

Over a month has passed since the Petraeus report and the news keeps getting better. A recent editorial in the Washington Post is in step with many similar reports coming out of Iraq:

"In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site icasualties.org. The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 -- down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004."

In further evidence, “Baghdad's economy is thriving as businesses that have been in the family for generations are back on the streets operating”.

However, just when the United States is making real progress in Iraq, the U.K. is retreating. One would logically ask why especially given that the situation in Basra is far for stabilized. Iranian backed militias continue to swell in numbers and with the Brits leaving; the U.S. may have to send thousands of troops to fill the void. The alternative would be an unguarded Iraq-Iran border, no protection of routes leading from Kuwait to Baghdad and Shiite militias battling each other for control of the south and its riches.

It is clear that Gordon Brown’s retreat has little to do with military strategy rather a reflection of a politically motivated objective that ultimately undermines coalition efforts in Iraq. A point highlighted by former Prime Minister Sir John Major, "What is pretty unattractive is the nods, the winks, the hints, the cynicism, the belief that every decision is being taken because it is marching to the drumbeat of an election”. Added Shadow Defense Secretary Liam Fox in the same article, Mr. Brown is treating the troops as "a political football".

Meanwhile French leader Nicholas Sarkozy aspires to a world order in which France occupies a stronger position, he plans to restore France's place and stature in NATO structures and, simultaneously, to promote autonomous defense in addition to promoting better dynamics of inter-European and European-American coordination in combating terrorism. However, although Sarkozy’s France is politically more accommodating of U.S. strategy, they are incapable of replacing the British for at least two reasons. French troops lack combat experience and force projection familiarity. In Afghanistan, the French have barely fired a shot and apart from some experience in minor colonial conflicts in Africa, they lack the battle hardness of the British. Secondly, the French public may be generally supportive of their leader but do not share his zeal for the U.S. and in particular, its foreign policy.

It would have been more intelligent to keep British soldiers in place for at until one of the principle reasons for the surge is fulfilled, to buy time for greater political stability. In spite of the surge success, the latter remains a key challenge for the United States. As the aforementioned Washington Post piece concludes, not all the good news indicates that the war is being won, “U.S. military commanders have said that no reduction in violence will be sustainable unless Iraqis reach political solutions”. On a good note, the surge is in fact, buying sufficient time for political processes to gain some momentum regrettably however, America's foremost allies are retreating just when needed most.

Your comments are most welcome ...

23 comments:

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

Unfortunatly Gordon stated when beconing PM that he was going to pull out as he is doing.

This is also one of many resons why Howard staying in Australia is so important. We have now seen how a change at the top in a staunch ally changes policy and strength in Iraq.

I beleive that the same could very well happen of Howard loses!

Elaine said...

It is very disturbing that the UK is retreating. Like you said though the motive is political. Let's hope the same scenario is not played out in the US after the 2008 election.

American Interests said...

Lib Lie Con Truth: And indeed the polls are still indicative of a Howard loss, which is pretty sad really.

Elaine: Good to see you here. I am confident that not much will change after the 2008 election. Let's hope...

heidianne jackson said...

i had hoped, when all the broohaha ocurred back in the summer, that gordon would drop that line of thinking. sadly, he thinks that the terrorism in the u.k. will stop if they pull out. sadly, i do not believe this to be the case.

if howard loses, i fear that the same will happen with you blokes down under.

American Interests said...

Heidianne: Definitely not the case!

Regarding our nations involvement, I think that any change in policy will need to overcome some stiff opposition not to mention White House influence. Of course, I will do my small bit as well. Thanks for commenting!

Aunty Belle said...

Hey American Interests!! Thanky for your visit--and the heads-up for your post on from lib to radical Islam.

I'se been huffin'--Granny had medical issues...but please come again--that series of essays on Islam is coming soon wif' a lot of references for support.

I'se impressed wif' the work ya's doin' over here on this blog--truly.

I'se gonna suggest to some folks that they need to take a look at what ya's got going ....

Hold the fort!
Aunty Belle (Antebellum)

Right Truth said...

Sorry to be so long getting over to read your fine article. On the Brits pulling out of Iraq, Sadr's camp is praising that as a victory for them. They take credit for "forcing" them to tuck tail and run. I know this from a source inside Sadr's camp.

Also your point of the Shia groups, infighting, struggle for one group to reign over the other, is extremely accurate. The word to the media is that a deal has been struck between Sadr and the Badr group, which is true on the surface. But underneath the struggle continues.

Also word from on the ground in Iraq is, as you say, "peace is unsustainable" without improvement in the political arena.

The Shia groups want Maliki out and are working toward that end. This may be a good thing, as he seems inadequate for the job. But the question becomes who takes his place?

While the word is very good out of Iraq on the military front, I pray the political situation will change. For Iraq. For America. For the world.

American Interests said...

Aunty Belle: Thanks for visiting and I look forward to those essays.

Right Truth: Rightful comments Debbie! Keep up the good work at yours...

Donald Douglas said...

The surge is working, Ottavio. The European allies need to look out for their own interests, but they should never back off from fight hard against the terrorists, and from supporting the U.S.

I like Sarkozy. He'll make France the best ally the U.S. has had in a long time.

American Interests said...

Thanks Donald, I agree about Sarkozy...

Tapline said...

AI, excellent post, as par for your reporting. I get most of my info on Iraq from Iraq the Model, they have excellent insight into the problems of Iraq. Stay well....

Karen said...

Good post! Last weekend on C-SPAN I watched the PM questioning session and then I watched a speech given by the leader of the Conservative Party. He seems like a young guy with a passion for the job.

I think old Gordon will be ok as long as he doesn't go too far over the cliff. So far so good. He said he'd pull the troops as soon as he was elected so I wasn't surprised.

Actually, I take the actions of Spain and Portugal more as a slap in the face as far as countries abandoning Iraq. The new leadership in those two countries are far worse.

I really hope Howard remains in charge. I think he rocks.

I'm blogrolling you. Thanks for the comments on my blog.

Paul Champagne said...

It is extremely unfortunate that the Brits are pulling out. This however is a "coalition of the willing", and I guess they are no longer willing. It would be nice if someone else stepped up ... the French, Aussies or Germans.

Great post, I agree with almost everything you said.

WomanHonorThyself said...

the UK is Isslamfried my friend...great read!

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

I don't know why the UK pulled out. It's possible that the "Britain is Not Spain" attitude is a thing of the past, and that the UK has gone back to a more Chamberlainesque approach to international affairs.

Too bad.

I agree, there Iraq is getting on its feet, but still needs time.

Another milestone will, God willing, happen this Monday. Karbala province's security is getting handed off to Iraqi authorities. It's the eighth of eighteen provinces to get transferred.

That's being presented as a failure of the Bush administration. He'd said that all eighteen would be handed over by November.

I prefer to see the glass as half-full.

David Schantz said...

Great post. I hope France will surprise me and take a stand along side the United States.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

ArtfulSub said...

France is not an "ally" and most definately not a "friend". When their leaders perceived self-interest is aligned with the USA, they'll work with us. When it is not, they will not.


I disagree that they're INCAPABLE of being an asset in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else.

They have first-rate weaponry and a small number of elite troops who have "battle hardness" through tough training. And their Intelligence Services are first-rate and FAR less restrained by political correctness than the CIA.

It made me LOL when that snake Chirac chimed in with nasty comments about rendition, Gitmo etc...

There isn't a terrorist in the World who'd prefer to be in French hands over the CIA.

I'd argue they possess MORE effective Intelligence assets on the ground in several potential hotspots than does the USA. Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, etc...

I can't forsee any circumstance where they would station large numbers of their WEAK regular Army Troops for a LONG period.

I can see a remote POSSIBILITY that Sarkozy would, under certain circumstances, deploy elite troops for In-And-Out actions. And I can see Sarkozy sharing intelligence information with us.

heidianne jackson said...

angel is right that the uk has been islamified - and art, to a greater extent than the uk france has been as well.

if france were to publicly pledge allegiance to the coalition they would face ever increasing violence in their own country. there are already areas of paris where a non-muslim woman must cover or face the consequences of the natives - er um transplants.

i agree that sarkozy may comply with elite troops for in-and-outs, but i don't expect that it will be made public. maybe we can get them to just let us send the bad guys we capture to them for interrogation. we'd probably get more information that way...

Lauren said...

I really thought that Brown would be a bit more tolerant and cooperate with the US over in Iraq, especially since he was so close to Blair politically and seemed to support him.

It is sad to realize that as many of our allies pull out, that fact may push America to pull out as well, thus ending in defeat for everyone (except the terrorists that is).

Great thoughts Otto. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Despite the open invitation to those of all points of view to participate and comment on the views expressed here, the collection above are all remarkably like minded.
I guess it's just nice to agree?

I disagree with your central thesis - that the USA can be the only national or regional force that can bring global stability. Indeed there is much to argue that they are a source of as much instability as the opposite.

And as for this piece.
"Buying more time".....................

and what is the currency in which the trade is done?

The blood of American Nineteens.
And Iraqis.......many of whom are just civilians.

So, when talking of "buying more time", it is always worth asking yourself, hopefully whilst standing looking into a mirror, whether you would go to "fight" in Iraq, or send your son or grandson.

I fancy not.

heidianne jackson said...

i am sending my son. he has my blessing to stand up for the right of others to denegrate him and our country. i tried when i was out of college and because of my asthma they wouldn't take me. my father served as did my sister and my uncles and my grandfather and several cousins. all were proud to have done.

clearly many hundreds of thousands of others have done the same. and will continue to do. serve themselves or send their own into the arena. someone MUST stand up to the bully or the bully will win.

if your proposing that others will play nice if we would just go home, what is it that you base this proposal on? clearly there is nothing in history (current or ancient) to indicate that this would happen.

American Interests said...

Tapline: Agreed, 'Iraq the model' is a good source, thanks.

Karen: Thanks for the blogroll. I have reciprocated.

Paul: The French can and do have some elite troops, not sure whether they will step up though.

womanhthyself: Islamified ... Isslamfried, all the same you are right.

brian: Yes, yes, glass half full! I like that ... I don't quite think 'like Spain', not yet anyway but heading that way...

david: Let's hope. I like Sarkozy and you just never know. In the event that the French do step up the Brits will feel seriously compelled to limit there withdrawel... 'God Bless America, God Save The Republic' ...

artfulsub: Thanks for expressing your views here! I would like to think that they are an 'ally' at present. They are indeed most capable of being a military asset, whether they are willing is another question.

Your comments about French intelligence are noted. That being the case let's hope they share it.

heidianne: I do hope Sarkozy has the political courage to pledge complete allegiance much like Howard does in Australia. Using the French for interrogation may be a good idea.

Lauren: Welcome 'Pride of America'. I doubt the U.S. will back away due to dwindling support from traditional allies but it doesn't help does it... Thanks for coming by!

American Interests said...

Anonymous: Hello there and welcome! I do not mind your choosing to be anonymous but I just wish I knew what part of the globe (nation) you were from. Thanks for expressing your views here.

The U.S.is not perfect, let me be clear on this but about your disagreeing "that the USA can be the only national or regional force that can bring global stability. What national or regional force would you propose to enhance global stability if not America?

This question is demanding of an answer given that you believe it is not the U.S.

Maybe the European Union? Wealth, size, and economic output render this union a candidate for leadership but a lack of internal coherence will limit its capacity to exert global influence of a dominating quality.

Russia? China? Brazil? They don't even warrant consideration!

If my son or daughter wanted to join Australia's armed services they would have my blessing, they already know this. No mirror needed my friend.

You know what I meant by 'buying time' its simply an enunciation, an expression if you will. Your interpretation is certainly not mine. But if we are going to talk blood hasn't its flow been curtailed since the surge. And what if America picked up and left now? Do you really believe the blood flow would stop?

And what if we deliberated as you have here in times past. Like when contemplating ways to stop German offences in Europe?

Why have we had wars and conflicts throughout the ages? Is it not for the same reason we have Police forces and prisons in our societies? There is always an enemy, there will always be wrongdoers amongst us.

Would you have left Saddam in Kuwait in '91? One could imagine what the tyrant may have got up to with combined oil reserves totaling 4.5 million barrrels per day at his disposal....

Heidianne: I concur!