It was all supposed be over by this Christmas. That was the date in the United Nations’ original timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
Now, in a carefully orchestrated piece of theatre, New Labour tells us to welcome comments by Iraq’s puppet president, Jalal Talabani, that British troops might possibly be out not in six weeks but by Christmas next year, provided his barely existing Iraqi forces can somehow take over.
But the same people spun the same tale 12 months ago. And over this last year the chaos and devastation in Iraq have got worse.
The occupation has claimed the lives of over 100,000 Iraqis. It has brought the use of depleted uranium, napalm and phosphorus, reported last week. Over 2,000 US soldiers have been killed and the British death toll is tragically nearing 100. A clear majority of Iraqis want the occupation to end.
In order to hold on, Tony Blair and George Bush are fanning the flames of the very civil war they claim they are trying to prevent.
Most people in Britain and the US also want to end the occupation. The revelations by former British ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer that Blair rushed headlong to back Bush’s war confirms that Blair was never looking for a peaceful solution.
The growing number of military families now calling for the troops to be brought home is a sign of the deepening feeling against the occupation and of the pressure on Blair.
And there is no appetite for sending more troops to Afghanistan, which the government announced this week.
After four years of occupation, Afghanistan has just had its worst month of violence since US and British forces invaded.
Yet the response from the White House is more bellicose noises against Syria and Iran, threatening catastrophe across the Middle East. All this places immense importance on the International Peace Conference taking place in London in three weeks time.
Lindsey German is the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition. She writes here in a personal capacity. For more on the peace conference go to Activists set for peace conference