It is a point of some significance that the British have not presided over a level of reconstruction in our patch in the south around Basra that is significantly more impressive to what has gone on further north in the American zone. Some Americans might note that this is a telling failure, when the British cannot claim to have been distracted from this task by the kind of Sunni-Shia sectarian feuding that has perforce preoccupied the Americans.
The sad reality is that neither we nor the Americans will be leaving Iraq with much credit and attempts by either side to pass the buck are almost pointless. Worse, these futile quarrels are in danger of distracting attention from the real question; what in this terrible situation, mostly of our own making, can we now do for the suffering people of Iraq?
At this stage, with little more than a toehold at Basra airport, possibly not much. We might, however, have the decency to give the Iraqis a firm date for our withdrawal from the south of Iraq instead of slowly vanishing from the scene much like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat. That at least would be a decent ending to an otherwise ignominious episode.