The British troop withdrawal from Basra has both been hailed as a victory and described as a defeat. For the UK tabloid the Sun, the movement of 600 soldiers from Basra palace to a British airbase 10 miles outside of Basra is an ‘historic moment’. It has taken ‘guts, skill and determination’, says the Sun, to reach a point where the British can ‘hand the city back to the Iraqis’. Yet for the Daily Mail, the withdrawal is an ‘ignominious defeat’ and a ‘sad day in our military history'.
So, which is it: a memorable or shameful moment for the Brits?
It’s neither. The withdrawal is better understood as a tightly-controlled PR stunt designed to make the British elite’s lack of political will for staying in Iraq look like something more meaningful.
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