The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bush gets ready for Iraq U-turn by Brown

Bush gets ready for Iraq U-turn by Brown

By Tim Shipman in Washington, Philip Sherwell and Patrick Hennessy, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 9:37am BST 20/05/2007

Gordon Brown is prepared to risk the future of the "special relationship" with the United States by reversing Tony Blair's support for the Iraq war, President George W Bush has been warned.

Gordon Brown is expected to announce British troop withdrawals

He has been briefed by White House officials to expect an announcement on British troop withdrawals from Mr Brown during his first 100 days in power. It would be designed to boost the new prime minister's popularity in the opinion polls.

The President recently discussed with a senior White House adviser how to handle the fallout from the expected loss of Washington's main ally in Iraq, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

Details of the talks came as a close ally of Mr Brown called for a quicker withdrawal of British troops. Nigel Griffiths, a former minister, said: "We should get out of Iraq as soon as is practicable. We should consult the Iraqi government - but they cannot have a veto. This cannot be delayed."

Mr Griffiths, who resigned as deputy leader of the Commons this year over the decision to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system, spoke out as reports suggested that Mr Brown would use an early trip to Iraq to reassess Britain's role and accelerate the withdrawal. Revelation of the US fears will reinforce expectations in Westminster that Mr Brown will make a decisive break with Mr Blair's support for the war.

Tony Blair during a surprise 'farewell trip' to Iraq yesterday
Tony Blair during a surprise 'farewell trip' to Iraq yesterday

During a surprise "farewell trip" to Iraq yesterday, Mr Blair suggested that his successor would continue his policy. Speaking shortly after a mortar attack by insurgents on Baghdad's fortified "green zone", the Prime Minister said: "I have no doubt at all that Britain will remain steadfast in its support for Iraq, for the Iraqi people and for the Iraqi government as it tries to make sure it overcomes the threat of terrorism and continues to make progress.

"The policy I pursue is one for the whole of the Government, so even when I leave government I am sure that support will continue."

However, it can be revealed that senior figures in the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the State Department in Washington have expressed fears about Mr Brown.

They believe that cordial relations between the two leaders will be "at an end" if the incoming premier plays "gesture politics" over Iraq.

One senior official said: "There is a sense of foreboding. We don't know if he will be there when we need him. We expect a gesture that will greatly weaken the United States government's position."

Mark Kirk, a Republican congressman who discussed Iraq policy at the White House last week, said: "The American view is that he's a much weaker political leader than Blair. There's the fear in Washington that he won't be as strong an ally."

President Bush's aides fear that Mr Brown will boost Democrats' demands for a timetable for a US pullout from Iraq and encourage wavering Republicans to defect - leaving the President more isolated.

Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004 who sits on the Senate foreign affairs committee, said Mr Brown would support Democrats' calls for the Iraqi government to meet "benchmarks" for progress or for war funding to be cut off.

A source close to the Chancellor said last night: "These fears are unfounded. Gordon is a committed Atlanticist who wants to strengthen and deepen our ties with America around our shared values, and who wants to persuade the rest of Europe to work in closer co-operation with America."

The number of British troops in Iraq is being cut from 7,100 at the start of the year to 5,500 - but there is no official timetable for full-scale withdrawal.;jsessionid=TZ20IISXS2DCBQFIQMGSFF4AVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2007/05/20/wirq20.xml


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