Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lessons, and costs, of empire

The British Middle East expert Toby Dodge - author of an excellent analysis of the British creation and occupation of Baghdad after World War I - publishes in The Independent a fine post-mortem for the British experience in Basra (from which the British have now pulled out, ending their combat role in "Operation Iraqi Freedom"). Among his conclusions: that Britain had neither the political will nor the economic resources to sustain a commitment in post-2003 Iraq, and that as it ramps us its commitment to war versus the Taliban in Afghanistan, it had better think long and hard about what its realistic prospects truly are and be very cautious in its commitment.

I hope Mr. Obama takes note.

Basra itself, however, is in worse shape than before the Brits arrived. I'm sure the same can be said for Baghdad and the Americans.

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