Prev | List | Random | Next
A look back at media coverage of the British capture of Basra in the spring of 2003. This post is not intended to be all-inclusive. Additional expansion will occur as time permits.
The day before the invasion, the British role was explained in general terms:
The British army is "much better equipped, much more capable and integrated" into the American war plans than in the 1991 Gulf war, says General Sir Roger Wheeler, former head of the army. In a symbolic move not seen since the sec ond world war, up to 2,000 US marines are expected to be commanded by the British in a joint operation to take the key southern Iraqi city of Basra.At that point in time, few would risk stating anything for the record other than the obvious regarding the pending assault:
Under plans being drawn up at the US central command in Qatar, the US 15th marine expeditionary unit will join about 4,000 Royal Marine commandos in an amphibious assault to seize Iraq's only port and protect nearby oil wells.
"If we deploy in Iraq there will be lot of dead bodies, we can be absolutely sure of that," Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Blackman, commander of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, told the Sunday Telegraph.In the earliest days of the combat, as American troops streamed northwards rowards Baghdad, British troops began securing the sourthern tip of the country.
The more cautious among military analysts emphasise the risks and uncertainties. They point to the old adage that the best laid military plans do not survive the first contact with the enemy.
Thousands of Royal Marine commandos and paratroopers supported by heavy armour were last night pushing towards Basra, Iraq's only port and the first key prize for the Anglo-American invaders.In addition to a potential humanitarian crisis, destruction of oil wells in the region was a concern to coalition forces, but...
Basra's strategic position has meant it has been fought over since its foundation 1,400 years ago. The British took it from the Turks in 1914 and again, in the face of an Arab revolt, in 1941. British forces this morning were on the verge of occupying it again after seizing the town of Umm Qasr, just south of the city.
Under plans drawn up by US commanders, and agreed by their UK counterparts, British forces were given the task of seizing Basra and protecting the Rumeila oil field west of the city and just north of the Kuwaiti border. The field has more than 5bn barrels in reserves.
President Saddam has made little apparent attempt to hold on to Basra, leaving only two regular army divisions rather than any of the better-equipped and better-trained republican guard divisions.
The city, which is predominantly Shia Muslim, is expected to fall relatively easily. The population has little love of Saddam and rose up against him and his Ba'ath party officials in the failed 1991 rising.
Basra suffered badly in 1991. While Saddam rebuilt Baghdad, much of the destruction in Basra has remained and many of the population remain psychologically scarred.
The assault on Basra heralds the make-up of the military administration under which Iraq will be run. British officers will control a vast southern sector of the country, centred on Basra. Commanders have drawn up extensive plans for humanitarian operations once the military occupation is secure. Food and water distribution points will be set up in the biggest military aid operation since the second world war.
The British want the capture of Basra to act as a model for the rest of the campaign. Part of their task will also be to ensure the fractious Shia south of the country does not erupt into civil war. Officers say they were given the role because of their experience of policing in Northern Ireland.
Once Basra is controlled the troops will fan out to seize smaller towns and villages and tackle resistance forces. Their control over the south will be crucial in giving the US the chance to close in on Baghdad.
As clouds of thick black smoke billowed across the main oilfield area behind Basra, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the defence staff, revealed that the Iraqi forces had set alight only seven wells, much fewer than the 30 estimated by the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, earlier in the day.Early reports from journalists accompanying British troops gave reason for optimism:
US and British officials remain confident that Saddam Hussein's army will be prevented from repeating the environmental disaster they caused when they blew up more than 700 wells during the first Gulf war.
Children run cheering as troops roll inBut reports from al Jazeera in Basra also focused on children:
It was a surreal way to invade a country. As a huge British convoy crossed into Iraq yesterday hundreds of children came to greet them. In the end British soldiers were greeted, not with gunfire, but with laughter and smiles.
As the troops moved past small boys ran up to the windows, smiling and grinning. 'Hello, hello,' one shouted. A small group of teenagers sang and danced and clapped their hands. Every single one of them seemed to wave his fingers in the universal signal for a cigarette.
Al-Jazeera's footage included an Iraqi child with the back of its head apparently blown off and wounded people covered in blood being treated on the floor of a hospital.Some western commenters were quick to condemn the distorted view of the war presented by those who would ignore the Iraqi Ministry of Information's reports
It apologised for showing disturbing pictures but said: "The world should know the truth and what is going on."
The Iraqi information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, claimed that 77 civilians had been killed and 366 wounded in Basra, mainly by cluster bombs.
Most wars start by accident or with a flourish of misplaced jingoism. But this war is unique. It is hard to recall any conflict in history that aroused so much opposition even before it began. At best its legitimacy and purpose is in serious doubt. At worst, millions regard it as illegal and/or immoral.And as the war neared the 5-day point, media declarations of coalition failure became common:
Besides that, it is led by a president for whom few outside the United States have any respect.
Iraqi spokesmen, on the other hand, have been remarkably forthcoming and, if we disregard the usual rhetoric, the factual content of their statements has often been more accurate than that of the invasion forces. Their figures for Iraqi casualties have also been low enough to sound plausible.
General Franks, of course, is at pains to point out that modern American missiles are extremely accurate and that every target is carefully selected to minimise civilian casualties. This may be, but it takes only a few exceptions to persuade people otherwise - as happened at the weekend when al-Jazeera television showed millions of Arab viewers the picture of a child with a shattered head.
When they [coalition forces] arrived in Safwan last Friday, one Iraqi greeted them by saying: "What took you so long? God help you to become victorious."
Possibly he meant it, though it's not hard to imagine similar words being addressed to anyone who arrived in town with a conspicuous display of weaponry. Two Reuters correspondents, travelling independently of the military, told a different story:
"One group of Iraqi boys on the side of the road smiled and waved as a convoy of British tanks and trucks rolled by. But once it had passed, leaving a trail of dust and grit in its wake, their smiles turned to scowls. 'We don't want them here,' said 17-year-old Fouad, looking angrily up at the plumes of grey smoke rising from Basra. 'Saddam is our leader,' he said defiantly. 'Saddam is good'."
US and British troops were locked in fierce gunfights with Republican Guard soldiers yesterday as they struggled to take control of Umm Qasr, a small strategically important port on the Kuwaiti border.And with the port still under Iraqi control, reports of the deepening humanitarian crisis began appearing:
The port will be used to bring in food and logistics supplies once fighting is over.
Although US generals insisted the war was going to plan and that troops were advancing faster than expected, there was not the mass surrender that military planners had hoped for.
In many cases coalition troops have met unexpectedly strong resistance. As well as the fight at Umm Qasr, US troops talked of facing resistance at Basra, further north at Nassiriya and at the Shia religious town of Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad.
Iraqi city suffers water shortage...along with accounts of the courage and fortitude of Saddam's elite defenders:
The Red Cross today warned of an imminent humanitarian disaster in Iraq's second city of Basra, as the aid agency struggled to restore water supplies destroyed in the war.
Most of the city has been without water and electricity since Friday, which has been threatening hospitals and sanitation services in the area, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The Republican Guard: outgunned and outnumbered, but they never surrenderIn the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof assured readers that coalition forces had failed to plan for enemy gunfire in response to the invasion:
As US and British troops meet with fierce resistance, an expert on the Iraqi army profiles Saddam Hussein's elite security forces and warns they have the potential to be formidable opponents
On the other hand, the guard demonstrated impressive tenacity and no unit withdrew without authorisation, in contrast to the regular army units, many of whose tank crews deserted. The tactical shortfalls of the guard officers are substantial, but tenacity can go some way to make up for lack of professionalism, especially when Iraqi soldiers are using civilians as a shield. This is already constraining British and US forces in Nassiriya, Umm Qasr and Basra.
...the war plan assumed that Iraqis would welcome us as liberators, even though every visitor to Iraq heard ordinary people warning that they would pull out their guns and take pot-shots at any invading Americans. The upshot of the ideological optimism was that we adopted not the full Powell doctrine of overwhelming force, but a blend with the Rumsfeld theory of smaller, more mobile and flexible forces. The optimists didn't factor in guerrilla resistance in rear areas; indeed, they blithely expected a lovefest in Basra."Then, as the first week of the war finally drew to a close,
A British soldier who was shot as he tried to calm rioting civilians in southern Iraq died yesterday, the first British combat death since the war began, the Ministry of Defence said.
The soldier, whose name was not released, was shot on Sunday evening near Az Zubayr and died from his wounds.
The second week of fighting would commence with some hopeful news, as the British launched a media blitz to turn the tide of negative reporting:
British forces support Basra 'uprising'More
News of a battlefield victory and a 'popular uprising' yesterday came just at the right time for prime-time news bulletins in the US and Britain, writes Brian Whitaker
After a series of setbacks, and with the advance on Baghdad delayed by sandstorms, the invasion forces were badly in need of some positive developments yesterday.
The first success of the day - which came just at the right moment for prime-time television news in the UK - was a claim by the British military that a "popular uprising" against Saddam Hussein's regime had broken out in Basra.
British forces then weighed in with artillery support for the rebelling Shia population and a 2,000-lb bomb was dropped on the Ba'ath party headquarters, according to reports. The British deputy commander, Major-General Peter Wall, hailed the uprising as "just the sort of encouraging indication we have been looking for".
At present, very little news is coming out of Basra from independent sources, so it is difficult to be sure what is really happening. Some British versions have been much more cautious, describing the uprising as "nascent", while al-Jazeera's reporter inside the city said there was no sign of any uprising at all.
As British heavy artillery pounded the outskirts of Basra, reports began to emerge of what was described as a "nascent" uprising.While the British made no apparent acceleration towards Basra in response, as the month of March concluded (with American forces on the outskirts of Baghdad and the British still "approaching" Basra) British media sources were eager to point out the superiority of British apples to American oranges:
Black Watch troops on the Shatt al-Arab waterway said they had seen Iraqi artillery firing at their own people. Large crowds were said to be gathering on the streets.
A British officer quoted in pooled reports said: "We have seen a large crowd on the streets. The Iraqis are firing their own artillery at their own people. There will be carnage."
Pressure to intervene increased when the Iraqi forces were seen directing horizontal artillery fire at the crowd.
Al Lockwood, a British military spokesman in Qatar, said there had been an "uprising" in Basra against the Ba'ath party. He said that according to reports: "The Shia population attempted to attack the ruling party. The ruling party responded by firing mortars."
It is not known how many casualties were caused by the artillery fire, which British forces described as "horrific".
Cracks are appearing between British and American commanders which have serious implications for their future operations in Iraq.Meanwhile, behind the British line of advance
Senior British military officers on the ground are making it clear they are dismayed by the failure of US troops to try to fight the battle for hearts and minds.
They also made plain they are appalled by reports over the weekend that US marines killed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, as they seized bridges outside Nassiriya in southern Iraq.
"You can see why the Iraqis are not welcoming us with open arms," a senior defence source said yesterday.
Yesterday, British officers described the very different approach between UK and American soldiers by pointing to Uum Qasr, the Iraqi port south of Basra and the first urban area captured by US and UK marines. "Unlike the Americans, we took our helmets and sunglasses off and looked at the Iraqis eye to eye," said a British officer.
While British soldiers "get out on their feet", Americans, he said, were reluctant to leave their armoured vehicles. When they did do so - and this was the experience even in Uum Qasr - US marines were ordered to wear their full combat kit.
One difference emphasised yesterday by senior British military sources was the attitude towards "force protection". A defence source added: "The Americans put on more and more armour and firepower. The British go light and go on the ground." He made it plain what approach should be adopted towards what he called "frightened Iraqis".
The British military put the difference in approach down to decades of training as well as experience - first in colonial insurgencies in Malaysia, then in Northern Ireland and peacekeeping operations in the Balkans.
General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, went out of his way over the weekend to say his troops were learning from the British.
After agreeing with General William Wallace, commander of US ground forces in Iraq, that the enemy was responding in a way that the allies had not "wargamed" for, he said American - as well as British - forces could afford to be patient.
US marines in Nassiriya have said they had asked British troops for instructions in how to conduct urban warfare.
British military sources are now concerned that the experience in peacekeeping and unconventional warfare of British troops will mean they will be in Iraq long after the Americans have left, even for years, in policing and humanitarian operations.
Shortly after George Bush was elected president, the former chief of defence staff, Lord Guthrie, told the Guardian that the new administration was moving towards light, flexible forces which can "get there quicker but not stay around for ever". He added: "The Americans talk about the warrior ethic and ... that peacekeeping is for wimps."
Iraq has shown that the quick-light-flexible force strategy has not worked. The concern here among military chiefs is that the experience will mean the US will want to get out of places even quicker, leaving the British and others to continue fighting the battle for hearts and minds.
Iraqi police chiefs routinely tortured civilians who could not afford to pay extortionate bribes, locals in Abu al-Kacib said yesterday.As American forces took the Baghdad airport, British media commenters again contrasted the American failure and the British success:
The police station in the strategic Basra suburb - taken by the Royal Marines four days ago - was regularly used for torture and interrogation, informers said.
During a routine search of the building on Tuesday, soldiers from 40 Commando discovered filthy prison cells with equipment inside including electric cables, rubber tyres, hosepipes and meat hooks.
The building was also used by Saddam Hussein's internal security service, the mukhabarat, to interrogate political prisoners and innocents rounded up en masse after plots against the regime were discovered, another informer said.
One businessman who did not want to be named told British troops that police had set tariffs for locals suspected of crimes. If they could not afford the bribes they would be taken to the two-storey fortified police station and beaten. Some had never been seen again.
The businessman, aged around 55, said: "If you killed someone you could still get out of the prison if you paid the right money."
Common sense demands that what is being called the "final push" on Baghdad should not be rushed, whatever the political pressures in Washington. If nothing else, the past two weeks have shown that hopes of quick, easy triumphs were misplaced. The Rumsfeld plan did not work; the lightning strike fizzled. The welcoming crowds did not materialise; awesome air power was not decisive. Iraqi armies did not surrender en masse; instead, far more than expected stood and fought. Mr Bush and the Pentagon no doubt badly want to finish it before anything else goes wrong. But Downing Street's newly cautious, circumspect approach, like that of the British army around Basra, is more sensible.And as British forces tentavely approached the outskirts of Basra, their more cautious approach was detailed here:
It would be irresponsible to assume that Baghdad will implode now that US troops are at its gates. This war has al ready proved a graveyard of false assumptions and premature claims - such as the Basra uprising. Realism is what is required now. And the reality is that Baghdad is where the regime has always said it would make its stand.
'Raid and aid' tactic by British forces
British troops on the outskirts of Basra were yesterday distributing leaflets in an attempt to reassure local people that their intentions were benign.
"This time we won't abandon you," the sheets said, in a reference to 1991 when the Shias were encouraged by the US and Britain to rise up against Saddam Hussein only to be let down as their revolt was brutally quashed.
The reverse of the leaflet, written in Arabic, reads: "People of Basra, we are here to liberate the people of Iraq. Our enemy is the regime and not the people. We need your help to identify the enemy to rebuild Iraq. English speakers please come forward. We will stay as long as it takes."
British special forces, Royal Marine commandos, troops from 7 Armoured Brigade - the Desert Rats - and gunners from the Royal Horse Artillery have been engaged in "raid and aid" tactics, attacking hostile forces while trying to make friends with civilians. The problem comes when they are mingled or when troops cannot tell one from another.
For more than a week, British troops have tried to secure Basra, Iraq's second largest city, whose capture, it had been hoped, would deal a blow to President Saddam's regime and encourage Iraqi commanders elsewhere in the country, including Baghdad, to give up.
The 25,000 or so British troops and marines in southern Iraq have secured the deep water port of Umm Qasr, an important base for the supplies of humanitarian aid. They have also secured the oilfields of Rumaila to the west, and the Faw peninsula to the south-east, according to military sources.
The British tactic is not to surround Basra, but to allow the estimated 1,000 Fedayeen and other Iraqi special forces in the city of 1.5 million people an escape route to the east.
Meanwhile, hundreds of civilians continued to stream out of the city. However, the exodus appeared to have slowed from previous days and, according to a British military spokesman, civilians were reporting increasingly brutal measures by Iraqi government forces to stop people fleeing, including one case of a woman being publicly hanged.
They said Saddam loyalists were forcing Iraqi troops to fight using death threats, shooting people if they tried to flee, using children as young as five as human shields, and hiding armed fighters in schools.
Iraqis responded with rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun fire. But within minutes the Desert Rats had destroyed an Iraqi T-55 tank and reduced a bunker to rubble.And as American troops launched the "Thunder Run" into Baghdad...
Some of the Iraqi troops were caught off guard: one Fedayeen was found asleep and killed as he tried to flee with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Twelve Iraqis were captured in an industrial estate where militiamen had been leading the fierce resistance.
Amid the destruction and scattered ammunition lay the dismembered bodies of two Iraqi militiamen in civilian dress, one still clutching a rocket.
The war in Iraq entered a new phase on Sunday when British tanks rolled into the centre of Basra.And finally...
A fortnight after surrounding it, and following a series of preliminary attacks, soldiers from the 7th Armoured Brigade - the Desert Rats - pushed through "patchy resistance" to the heart of Iraq's second city, according to a source at central command in Qatar. Reports say that the army has reached the old city and is occupying the ruling Ba'ath party's headquarters.
Forces loyal to Saddam Hussein appeared last night to have lost control of much of Basra, after columns of British troops poured into Iraq's second city, destroying its Ba'ath party headquarters.British troops were flush with victory:
After nearly three weeks on the outskirts, three squadrons of Challenger 2 tanks from the Royal Scots Dragoons ploughed into the city, followed by a second wave of Royal Marine Commandos. By midday they had driven from the south-west through a heavily damaged industrial area, encountering only "isolated pockets" of resistance. Three British soldiers were killed.
British chief-of-staff Major General Peter Wall told Reuters at the Qatar military headquarters that Iraqi army forces in Basra had "departed". But he warned that Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party loyalists and Fedayeen militia were still a threat. "It's been a very good day but I caution against excessive optimism," he said. "A relatively small number of determined people in a large city can give us difficulty."
Civilians fleeing from Basra in lorries and taxis - many waving white flags as they passed the British columns - described seeing two burned- out Iraqi tanks on the road.
Among those fleeing appeared to be two Iraqi military vehicles under white flags. For the first time, many of those leaving seemed to be celebrating the British advance by waving and honking horns, in an area that had seen repeated assaults on US and British soldiers and western journalists.
Finally, British troops begin to feel like an army of liberationAnd, as would happen a few hours later in Baghdad, Iraqi celebrations began in earnest:
The British soldiers pulled down the picture of Saddam Hussein from the memorial building in the centre of town and the locals trampled all over it. As 16 Air Assault Brigade rolled into the strategic town of Ad Dayr, west of Basra in southern Iraq, they stood by the side of the road with their thumbs up and grins on their faces.
The sheikhs of Ad Dayr had come to the outlying village of Qaryat Nas to greet Brigadier Jacko Page in their best clothes, their grubby galabayyas covered with black robes trimmed with gold, their headresses immaculate. They patted the small, bespectacled commander on the back, shouting "salaam, salaam".
One man, a student, said life with Saddam Hussein for this town of farmers "was like life with nothing". He explained: "Most people here don't have anything, only suffering and pain."
Another told the soldiers: "We have been waiting a long time for you. We are afraid you will leave us again like you did in 1991. If you are going to leave, you have to tell us now because if we say something wrong about Saddam and the Ba'ath party they will come back and kill us."
But they were given assurances and as confidence grew, the pictures of Saddam were torn down. Outside, in another village, Corporal Mick Flynn had found his armoured vehicle mobbed. Asked over the radio if he needed assistance, he laughed: "We are with the kind of lord mayor of this village. He says he welcomes us and the Americans and he says he wants the head of the British army to come and speak to him." For the time being, he would have to make do with Corporal Flynn.
Celebrating freedom in a spree of looting
The big guns over Basra have at last fallen silent. For almost three weeks now every night has been punctuated by the deafening crack of British shells over the city. But on Sunday night not a single volley was fired.
Yesterday the people of Basra woke up and discovered why. Saddam Hussein's rule is over in the city. The British have finally come.
But if the big guns are quiet, the small ones are not. The battle for Basra may be won, but chaos was the main victor as thousands of people tasted sudden freedom. The rattle of gunfire echoed through the city's streets as looters ransacked official buildings and helped themselves to whatever they could find. British soldiers, still battling a few diehard militia, could do little but watch.
"Looting is bad, but I am going to get some. We have had nothing for so long that now we have to take what we can," he said.
Suddenly the crack of incoming machine gun fire tore through the air. As journalists and British troops ducked for cover and scrambled behind cars, William remained calm. He looked briefly around him and then crouched down on the pavement. He put his fingers in his ears through the gunfire around him and continued the interview.
"Don't worry. It is just militiamen and you British will soon kill them all," he said with a large grin.
William was nothing if not phlegmatic under fire. That is no surprise. He was conscripted into the Iraqi army as a sergeant. He has seen his fair share of violence. But he deserted two months ago after hearing President George Bush speak on the radio.
"I knew there was going to be a war when I heard him and I knew who was going to win. I just left," he said and flashed his grin again.
William is now a happy man. Along with thousands of others he waved and gave the thumbs-up sign to every British tank and armoured vehicle that trundled by. It was not the singing and dancing in the streets dreamed of by Whitehall spin doctors, but it was a heartening thing for the British to see.
People were happy that it was over. You could tell it in the smiling face of a young boy, almost bent double as he hauled a refrigerator down the road in the direction of a waiting donkey cart.
But William did not want the world to misunderstand the looting. The people of southern Iraq have suffered much over the past 20 years. This was their time to get some of their own back.
"Please do not judge us," he said, for a moment serious. "The people here have had nothing so long. Do not condemn us for this. Do not misunderstand what we mean by this."
Another rattle of machine gun fire cut the air and William became concerned that it might be British troops firing over people's heads to ward off the looting thousands. He needed his share before the situation changed. He was off, dragging his cart behind him with a gaggle of friends trailing in his wake. "I am very happy," he said as a parting shot. "I wish we could fight alongside the British and Americans. Saddam Hussein is vanished. He was our nightmare and he is gone."
Saddam Hussein is indeed gone from Basra. But the city is far from safe. In the grounds of a building next door to the college, the corpse of a militiaman lay face down in the dust. It was impossible to say if he had been shot by British troops or as revenge by local people. Certainly, military intelligence reports have suggested that reprisals against those linked to the former regime have already begun.
The following month:
The teenager was allegedly arrested by British soldiers who beat him in May 2003. They then allegedly ordered him to swim across the Zubair river, but his injuries from the assault were too severe and he drowned.And in June
Six British military police officers have been killed and eight other servicemen wounded in two separate incidents in south-eastern Iraq.The battle for Basra had begun.
Both incidents happened at the edge of the British area of operations within the country, in the region of the town of Amara.
They mark the heaviest losses to enemy action suffered in a single day by US-led coalition forces since the war in Iraq was declared largely over on 1 May, after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime.
It is also the heaviest loss of British life in a single hostile incident since UK forces entered Iraq at the start of the war in late March.
By contrast, British troops operating in and around the second city of Basra had until now seen no serious post-war attacks, often dispensing with their helmets and flak jackets to present a less threatening sight to local people.
British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said the bodies of the six Royal Military Police officers, who had been training Iraqi police officers, were discovered on Tuesday in the village of Majar al-Kabir, 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of Amara.
He told the House of Commons that the circumstances of their deaths were being investigated, but initial indications were that they were involved in an incident at the local police station.
Para patrol attacked
Mr Hoon said that a few hours earlier, two vehicles carrying troops from the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment came under attack from a large number of Iraqi gunmen while on patrol in Majar al-Kabir.
The Iraqis were armed with heavy machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, he told MPs.
All the links to UK reporting of OIF in March 2003 reminded me that I was in Nice, France for work (really! - int'l technical stds mtg) about a week after our troops first went in. The only TV news we could get in Nice was French or BBC International. My french language skills truly weren't good enough for newscasts so I was stuck BBC Int'l. OMG. I was relieved to have my Brit colleagues to talk to. At first I didn't know what perspective they'd have, but I won't soon forget this ice breaker: "The BBC seems pretty Anti-American, doesn't it?"
That also reminded me that my first heads up on the official end to Election 2004 came from another British colleague, the morning after the election when final states were still reporting: "Looks a good turn out in the US elections? Media over here are reporting a close run, but..." (yes, I'm a pack rat and still have the email)
I need to remind myself about these folks every time I read the British press...
GREAT POST!Posted by Lisa in DC at April 28, 2008 02:40 AM
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 04/28/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.Posted by David M at April 28, 2008 05:45 PM
The Brits went in expecting to blow right by the "clear" and "hold" steps. Post-pacification-policing was not a good experience base for warfighting and pacification. And the IRA was polite enough to give advance warning of bombs in civvie areas.
There's no way in Hades the Brit approach could have worked, given any organized resistance.
I note that the reference to using civilian shields didn't include the information that this is classed as a "perfidious" war crime under Geneva, warranting any reasonable use of force, notwithstanding collateral civilian deaths, to root out the shielded fighters--who bear full responsibility for all such deaths.
The slow entry into Basra was also effectively the equivalent of the U.S. invitation in 1991 to the Shia to rebel followed by no support therefor. I, and many others, found it infuriating to watch.Posted by Brian H at April 28, 2008 06:58 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(3) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)