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Iraq: In or Out?

Just like most people, I was agianst the war on Iraq from the very beginning, and I went on marches to try and get the point across. After Saddam was toppled, the anti-war organisations started campaigning to get the troops out immediately, but my position was that having made such an awful bloody mess of someone's country, our troops should stay around to help fix it. (It's not the troops' fault of course, but Tony Blair's hardly going to go and repair the bridges and power stations himself.)

Now over the past couple of months, the US and UK governments have been changing their tune. before, the line was, "We have to stay in Iraq until the job's done, and/or until the Iraq government asks us to leave." Now, the line is, "Our troops will mostly be out of Iraq within a year or so." (Example)

Iraq is not getting better, and if the news is to be believed it's getting worse, slowly sliding towards civil war. Kofi Annan warned about this just recently; lots of commentators share this view. In such a situation, why would anyone decide that the time was ripe for pulling out the troops?

I'm 100% sure that the governments haven't been listening to the Stop The War Coalition on this one. Being charitable, I could guess that they have had some sound advice that removing the antagonism of a foreign army from the mix could help deflate tensions - but I don't honestly believe that to be likely. Alternatively, perhaps it's for the benefit of voters whose sons and daughters are sent to Iraq to face mortal danger every day - but if so, why now rather than years ago? My worry is that the scaling back of the commitment to Iraq is to free up capacity, to give the leaders the capability to threaten or even launch a new military adventure. Presumably not against Iran, because they're trying to butter up Iran to convince them to provide military support in Iraq when they leave - which is itself a hint that they're trying to pull out prematurely.

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