Iraq's president sees the looming departure of British forces from his country as a genuinely positive development. Jalal Talibani says the British departure will serve as a catalyst to Iraqi security forces "to stand on their own feet."
The British withdrawal may offer a blueprint to Washington on how and when to get US forces out of Iraq. The political will at home to continue the war is gone and the pressure to end it is growing.
The lead editorial in today's Guardian supports Blair's decision:
"Britain is nevertheless right to withdraw, because its forces have become part of the problem. Winston Churchill's solution to the problem of difficult wars was to declare victory and then leave, and that is more or less what Mr Blair tried to do when he announced the proposed troop reductions in the Commons yesterday."
As for Blair's claims of "mission accomplished", the paper noted, "...this is a case of being able to declare the mission fulfilled only by constantly redefining and reducing it."
"Britain's soldiers will come home, but the Iraqis have to stay. Britain and America began by offering them liberation. The best that can be done for them now is to find a little extra time, but even that will be limited. We cannot do much more, we cannot do better. The prime minister is right when he says that the next chapter in Basra's and Iraq's history will be written by Iraqis. That passes the responsibility to them, but it should not take away from Britain's responsibility for the chapter that is closing."