Thursday, January 11, 2007

Did Bush Ask Blair for More Troops?

Last night George W Bush announced 21,500 more US troops would be deployed to Iraq, bringing the total number in Iraq to 150,000For many this is seen as too little too late and reinforces the impression that the whole US military strategy has been botched from start to finish.

This strategy of extra troop deployment runs completely counter to the impression given of the British strategy which is to gradually withdraw troops over the next year.

I find it almost inconceivable that the US adminstration has not asked Britain a) to halt any planned troop withdrawal and b) to increase the number of British soldiers in Iraq.

If we were to mirror the proportions, Blair would now be sending an extra 1,000 troops to the region. The trouble is, even if he wanted to send them, Blair couldn't as the military is in a state of complete overstretch.

I do think, however, we are entitled to be told if the request has ever been made. We'll never find out from Blair or the MOD, but if anyone knows how to do an FOI request to the US government, that might provide some useful information.


Anonymous said...

I doubt we did get asked actually. The South is progressing reasonably well in comparison to Baghdad and Anwar Province where the US troops are going. Having a 1,000 UK soldiers there would just complicate things.

On top of that the US can see how stretched we are and that we don't have another 1,00 troops to send in any event.

sean lynch said...

It is not FOI that keeps us ordinary joes informed Iain, but the whistleblowers in the govts' own departments, to them, we owe our knowledge of covert and sinister manoueverings and give our thanks!

Anonymous said...

Iain you will have to go through the State Department I believe. And having done so myself I can assure you that you are more than likely to be fobbed off having spent a lot of time and effort putting it together. You would have more joy going through the domestic channels but even then it could fall under the exemption category of interefring in the national interest/relations with foreign allies. Could force it (ala Al Jazeera bombing discussions) but that oculd invovle a court case.

Anonymous said...

Cityunslicker must be right. Bush wouldn't urge a surge on Yo Blair because he would know he couldn't deliver. But this does draw attention to the tokenism of our presence and the fact that Brits die in the name of this tokenism. Not a comfortable feeling.

wrinkled weasel said...

anonymous 1.37 makes an interesting point. It led me to wonder about the so called "30 year rule" and whether the full extent of Tony Blair's complicity in war crimes and other misdemeanors will ever come to light, barring some sort of
political sea-change in the interim.

The fact is, they may not, including the information on this topic.

Essentially the government can block publication of sensitive documents indefinitely - for example;

(source BBC) There was dismay earlier this year when a crucial box of papers relating to the abdication crisis in 1936 was held back by Oxford's Bodleian Library until 2037

You get your information if and when they want you to and not before. Blair and his cronies are aspiring masters at this sort of obfuscation. Unless he is actually put on trial, you have not a cat in hell's chance.

The only likely possiblity of exposure is if there is some sort of civil case in which these sensitive documents are essesntial to the defendent's case.

Anonymous said...

That's a good idea. It might be worth asking Steve Wood over at FoI Blog. He's had experience in getting information on both sides of the Atlantic.

Anonymous said...

Save the Royal Navy petition.

Ian Thorpe said...

Now if we were talking about an FOI request asking how many paperclips the MOD used since the invasion I'd say you had a chance of an answer.

hatfield girl said...

At a time when British troops are so exposed in Afghanistan and Iraq, (and by many press accounts, inadequately equipped and funded), and at a time when the United States is further raising the level of offensive operations in Iraq, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is more than usually repellent in mounting a full scale attack upon the Prime Minister's office, on the disgraceful grounds that it is 'his turn', while hiding behind revelations of government incompetence that are as much his responsibility as that of any other member of the Cabinet.

Many detest the Prime Minister's foreign policy, and would hope he has refused to send more soldiers, but most would rather that the government of the UK is not subjected to unnecessary factional pressures while there are UK troops in harm's way.

wornsoul said...

Why doesn't Blair build new married quarters in Iraq and Afghanistan, move the service families nearer their loved ones and then arm them and double the size of the army?

james higham said...

...Brits die in the name of this tokenism...

Bryan is right and it's appalling. Imagine yourself into the situation of being sent to a deathhole because someone like Bush or Blair are total incompetents and know not what they're doing? Pity the military.

Cllr Keith Standring said...

I don't think we were asked to provide additional troops.

Although I am a committed Atlanticist, GWB, whilst he is clearly a muppet, has not been as bold on his proposal as he should have been. I suspect the massive shift in the Congress & Senate has rattled his cage.

We mustn't forget that this is the man who said, "The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur." As with almost all members of the British Government, he has no personal experience of service in the Armed Services. Good manners prevent me saying what he actually was when the question was posed to him.

Some of the senior US commanders have advised that the so called surge of an additional 20,000 US troops is wholly inadequate. I support that view. Further, there can be no question about additional UK troop deployment.

If this situation in Iraq is to be solved initially militarily, leading (hopefully) to a political solution and an early withdrawal of UK and other troops, the USA needs to deploy a minimum of 50,000 additional well trained troops.

I regret to say, I think GWB has demonstrated that he hasn't the b--ls to do what's really necessary.

Anonymous said...

Did Bush Ask Blair for More Troops?

The answer appears to be "yes". At least it is according to this article I've just come across in The Scotsman

TONY Blair formally rejected an American appeal to send hundreds more British troops to Iraq to help with US "surge" tactics, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

The Prime Minister was confronted with the request for extra help to supplement the thousands of American reinforcements on their way to Baghdad, during conversations with President Bush before Christmas.

But he turned down the plea for around 2,000 extra British troops - to add to the 7,200 already stationed around Basra - because it would conflict with the government's hopes of scaling down Britain's Iraq presence in the coming months.

Kind of odd really considering his recent speech aboard HMS Albion in Plymouth in which he called on the UK to involve itself in even more wars.