British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on Monday that half his country’s troops currently deployed in Iraq will be withdrawn by the spring of next year, a move that will greatly reduce Britain’s role in the war.
It was a major announcement and Brown’s first address to the British Parliament on Iraq since he took office. Britain’s involvement in Iraq has long been unpopular in the country and served as a catalyst in Tony Blair’s resignation from office earlier this year.
The troop withdrawal will reduce the number of British troops currently stationed in Iraq from 5,000 to 2,500.
From the initial American-led invasion of Iraq four years ago, the number of British troops involved in the fighting has never exceeded 10,000. To date, the total number of casualties for our lads across the pond stands at 170.
As for America, the highest reported level of troop deployment in the fighting stands at around 150,000 troops. Our casualties? There have been 3,818 troops killed and an additional 27,753 wounded.
Some of Mr. Brown’s critics have denounced the Prime Minister’s announcement as a political maneuver. General elections can possibly be held throughout Britain in less than two years and the timetable set for the troop reductions seem an attempt to gain favor amongst voters.
Of course if there is a political agenda, Mr. Brown will not admit it. He claims that the Iraqis are now in a better position to “take responsibility for the security themselves” thus essentially saying that his country’s job in southern Iraq is finished.
One cannot help but notice that the country that is supposed to be our strongest ally in this war is singing a far different tune than that of our Commander in Chief.
According to The New York Times, President Bush has requested an additional $190 billion for additional operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the President currently entering the final year of his term and the election season in full swing, one can only assume that our troops will remain in the desert until at least 2009.If there is one lesson to be learned from Gordon Brown’s decision to at least partially pull out from Iraq, it is this: the longer we continue this bloody mess of a war, the worse we look as a nation.
Even our allies cannot tolerate continuing this senseless blood bath. Fortunately for them, their leaders seem to have the human decency to conclude that 170 lives lost in an unjust war are 170 lives too many.