British troops abandoned a major base in southern Iraq on Thursday and prepared to wage guerrilla warfare along the Iranian border to combat weapons smuggling, a move that
"This is the first Iraqi city that has kicked out the occupier!" trumpeted a message from Sadr’s office that played on car-mounted speakers in Amarah, capital of the southern province of Maysan. "We have to celebrate this occasion!"
Maj. Charlie Burbridge, a British military spokesman, said the last of 1,200 troops left Camp Abu Naji, just outside Amarah, at noon Thursday, after several days of heavy mortar and rocket fire by a local militia, which local residents identified as the Sadr-controlled Mahdi Army. Adopting tactics used by a British special forces unit in North Africa during World War II, 600 of the soldiers plan to slip soon into the marshlands and deserts of eastern Maysan in an attempt to secure the Iranian border.
And so the grand retreat begins. Will Bush and his bootlicking warbloggers now denounce Tony Blair for "cutting and running?" Or will they call it a "masterstroke of strategic repositioning" — which is doubtless the kind of thing they will say if America’s inevitable bug-out comes before the end of Bush’s term.
If it happens afterwards, of course, it will be a "shameful and cowardly defeat for American honor" or some such. Although the true shame is the cowardly refusal by the U.S. Establishment to acknowledge that Bush has committed a monstrous war crime in Iraq, permanently staining the nation’s honor. But how many thousands of Iraqis and Americans will have to die before the hour of the inevitable comes round at last?