Talking about the situation in Basra today, John McCain makes the point that the problems in the city reflect not on the current strategy in Iraq but on the mistaken initial strategy:
“This goes back to when we didn’t have enough boots on the ground, after the initial military success,’’ he said. “Iranian clerics moved into the region, Iranian influence moved into southern Iraq, and we basically, and the British, did not do a great deal to prevent them. These are the penalties we continue to pay for the very bad mishandling of the war for nearly four years while they became solidly entrenched.”
It is hard not to think that the problems in Basra have been exacerbated by the fact that the British government has long been preoccupied with planning a withdrawal strategy rather than thinking about how to fix the problem.