Gordon Brown was in Basra in Iraq on Tuesday of this week to announce that 1,000 British troops would leave the city by the end of the year. But 4,000 will remain in Iraq – despite being driven out of Basra city last month.
That's not good enough for the Stop the War Coalition's supporters in parliament, who want Brown to pull out the troops completely – from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bob Wareing MP is chair of the all-party Stop the War group in parliament. 'Our aim is an early withdrawal and an end to the occupations,' he told Socialist Worker.
Bob is clear as to the real reason behind Brown's announcement. 'It's because we've been defeated in Basra,' he said. 'It's just not safe for them there.'
Brown's announcement is the latest in a series of attempts by New Labour to distance itself from the debacle of the wars while maintaining loyalty to George Bush's 'war on terror'.
Last week defence secretary Des Browne told a Labour Party conference fringe meeting that British engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan 'are commitments for decades [and] some of them may be commitments for generations'. Yet in the same breath he suggested that the 'commitments' would not necessarily be military.
Foreign secretary David Miliband admits to mistakes in Iraq while insisting that 'we share core values' with the US.
Behind the spin are chilling indications that Brown is preparing to back George Bush's plans to escalate the war by bombing Iran.
Veteran US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed this week that 'the bombing plan has had its most positive reception from the new government of Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown'.
Hersh quotes a 'senior European official' and a 'retired American four-star general with close ties to the British military', both of whom say Brown blames Iran for attacks on British troops in Iraq and is willing to back airstrikes against the country.
But both officials admit that the evidence for direct Iranian involvement in the Iraqi resistance comes from US intelligence sources – whose credibility is in tatters after the lies about WMD peddled in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Hersh finds no hard evidence that Iran has been supplying weapons to the Iraqi resistance.
Whatever the truth of the allegations, the fact remains they are being pushed as a pretext for an attack on Iran.
Bush is only too willing to lash out to try to impose his will on the region – but any such attack would be a disaster for the Middle East and the world.