George Bush hails Tony Blair's decision to begin withdrawing British troops from Iraq as a sign of real success but then again he would, wouldn't he?
An analysis in today's Telegraph suggests the Brits are looking to leave because they're done as much as they can and that falls far short of any future guarantees for the people in Basra:
"It is now over to the Iraqi security forces to prove that the last four years of training and experience has been sufficient for them to hold the line against the inevitable onslaught as various factions vie for power.
"The local police and border guards can largely be discounted as unreliable, penetrated by insurgents and substantially influenced by Iran.
"Indeed the manipulation of Tehran can be found permeating the highest echelons of Basra society.
"The police will essentially follow whoever proves to be the strongest leader as we enter the conflict’s next stage.
"All that stands in the way of the local militias’ rule of terror is the 10th Division of the Iraqi army.
"If the 10th Division can hold the line against the warring tribal factions, who are mainly fighting for control of smuggling and the bigger prize of the south’s huge oil reserves, then the billions of pounds and 132 British lives would not have been in vain over the last four years.
"But if the writ of Baghdad central government fails in Basra, a quick and bloody round of civil war will follow.
"Certainly the 200,000 Sunnis living in the area along with the tiny Christian population will face ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Shia majority.
"Then the various Shia factions will turn on themselves before the strongest side emerges. This will probably be someone from the Mahdi army, loyal to the troublesome cleric Moqtada al Sadr.
"The 2,500 British troops in the city can also expect much greater violence as the insurgents target them in a battle to prove who is strongest - measured in terms of foreign soldiers killed. "
The report warns that we won't hear much of future carnage in Basra. The place is simply too dangerous for reporters to visit.
The reality is inescapable. Without restoring peace to Basra and security to southern Iraq, Tony Blair is "cutting and running" at least by the definition of that harped by Bush and Cheney over the past three years. The only saving grace is that Tony hasn't mentioned that he'll be getting the rest of the British contingent out by 2008 at the latest.
Meanwhile Dick Cheney is proclaiming to anyone who'll still listen to him that he wants American forces to leave Iraq "with honour." Wait a second, "peace with honour," where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, that was the line from Kissinger and Nixon before that last helicopter lifted off from Saigon.