Your humble Devil rarely comments on the Iraq War—partly because I covered it quite extensively when this blog first started, and partly because I have always been ambivalent about the whole adventure.
However, ChickenYoghurt's sarcastic acknowledgement of "the beginning of our glorious formal withdrawal from Iraq" has reminded me of a conversation that I was having in the pub, a few weeks back, with a friend who works in one the murkier parts of the MoD.
Actually, he said, the situation in Iraq really isn't that bad; it isn't even that bad in Basra. Companies looking to invest come to Iraq and expect it to be a barren, bombed-out wasteland—and are immensely surprised (and enthusiastic) when they realise that it isn't. Few British companies, being rather risk-averse, tend to go there but the French and Americans are enthusiastically investing all over the place.
No, it's not perfect—a lot of infrastructure has been destroyed for instance. (A bit like in the former Yugoslavia, but Robin Cook didn't resign over that illegal war, so people didn't get so het up about it.)
However, the situation is not nearly as bad as our media paints it—when our glorious MSM gets the releases from the MoD, they nearly always pick on the one bad bit in the whole two-page briefing. (The above must be lies—our wonderful media would never distort the facts to suit their agenda, would they?)
Now, you can believe that I have been taken in by some devious MoD spook, but I tend to trust this guy when he says that things in Iraq, whilst far from perfect, are very much on the mend. Which is why, as my friend pointed out, we are leaving.
However, I do think that those who expected us to go in, remove Saddam, and have everything sorted out within six months were naive idiots; on the other hand, I think those who think that everything will still be utter shit in ten years are rather pessimistic.
Whether you think this justifies our intervention is a personal judgement, and I am making no such call.
P.S. Afghanistan's still a bit of a mess though...