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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Friday, September 30, 2005

Beating the British

George W. Bush on Iraq:

""We can expect they'll [the insurgency] do everything in their power to try to stop the march of freedom. And our troops are ready for it."

It seems the Australian media have largely decided that Iraq is in such a dire state that honest and brave reporting is simply too difficult. Where are the reports on Australia's actions in the country? Where are the questions to leading parliamentarians regarding our troops? Surely the tax-paying public has a right to know what we're doing over there.

The British press are a little braver. This week's New Statesman provides a chilling insight into British troops in the south of the country. The result?

"For politicians in Westminster, the idea that Basra's new British-trained police force might be, to some degree, in league with Britain's enemies seems to have come as a surprise, prompting some to demand a hastened withdrawal. Yet most insiders have known it all along; the religious militias that now threaten British forces have been the hidden hand. They have largely controlled the city since its liberation from Saddam Hussein. The dilemma for the British was always whether to confront or tolerate these forces. One British officer summed it up: "It's not that the extremists have infiltrated Basra's police. They run it."

"Since taking over Basra, the British army has been forced to play a dangerous game. Though the level of insurgency it has faced has been lower than that faced by the Americans in northern Iraq, the British forces' potential armed opponents have acquired critical jobs all around them, in the civil administration and the police."

Peace is at hand.


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