On the Frontlines

by John O’Sullivan

There’s very trenchant criticism (reported in the London Times) of the British effort in Basra from Tim Collins, the British officer whose stirring speech to his men on the eve of the battle of Basra was widely admired and ended up on the wall of the Oval Office. He and other Brit officers say straight out here that the that the Brits have not left Basra “a better place” and that the British military has been damaged by their time there. Like other NRO readers — especially those who like me are Brits — I have been in awe at the bravery and self-sacrifice of the British soldiers recounted in Michael Yon’s great reports. (In awe at Yon’s bravery too.) But the discrepancy is explained in Collins’s account by the failure of the civil and military leaders to give the troops the leadership, morale, and equipment they need to fight effectively. Alas, many Labor MPs simply won’t mind if the military loses its lustre.