Saturday, May 22, 2004

Just when he needs them most, it looks like Smirky is fresh outta friends:
LONDON: A leaked Foreign Office memorandum has exposed deep misgivings within the British government over America's "heavy-handed" behaviour and tactics in Iraq.

The document discloses for the first time the extent of private reservations within Tony Blair's government about Washington's approach. It blows apart Blair's public insistence that there are no differences between Britain and America over military tactics in Iraq.

Under the heading Problems, the memo says: "We should not underestimate the present difficulties ... Heavy-handed US military tactics in Falluja and Najaf some weeks ago have fuelled both Sunni and Shi'ite opposition to the coalition, and lost us much public support inside Iraq."

The detailed memo, intended for senior ministers and top officials, talks of "the need to redouble our efforts to ensure a sensible and sensitive US approach to military operations". It admits that the "scandal" of mistreatment by American soldiers of Iraqi prisoners "has sapped the moral authority of the coalition inside Iraq and internationally".

The memo acknowledges that Britain is struggling to get the Americans to adopt the more tactful approach that it wants and that there is a need to stop the United States doing anything "which would jeopardise our objectives".

It also discloses that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering two options for troop deployments to reinforce southern Iraq, both of which would involve extending the area patrolled by British soldiers.

Since the abuses of prisoners at the American-run Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad came to light, Blair has been scrupulously careful not to criticise the Bush administration - although Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, has been less restrained.
Oh man. This just sucks. Could it be that the Bush/Blair Axis is nackered?