"The withdrawal of British forces from Basra Palace, ahead of an expected full withdrawal from the city as early as next month, marks the beginning of the end of one of the most futile campaigns ever fought by the British Army.
Ostensibly, the British will be handing over control of Basra to Iraqi security forces. In reality, British soldiers control very little in Basra, and the Iraqi security forces are largely run by the Shia militias.
The British failure is almost total after four years of effort"
writes Patrick Cockburn in today's Independent.
The Iraq war has been the most calamitious foreign policy disaster in living memory.
Nearly a million people, including 168 British troops, have lost their lives. Billions of pounds of taxpayers money- money that could have been spent on old age pensions or hospitals, or in renationalising and modernising our railway network- has been wasted. And the world is an immeasurably more dangerous place than it was in March 2003.
Yet, incredibly there are those whose who think that we should just carry on as if nothing has happened. "Let's not be too harsh on those who planned and acted as cheerleaders for this disastrous war" they say- "they were acting out of the best intentions". What utter tripe. Iraq was attacked not because our leaders thought it possessed WMDs, but because they knew damn well it didn't. The whole war was a deceitful sham, a colonial resources grab dressed up as a 'humanitarian' intervention to 'liberate' the Iraqi people from a dictator the west had helped put in power in the first place.
Those responsible for taking our country to war against Iraq must be held to account. And those who acted as cheerleaders for the illegal invasion should either show some contrition for the death and destruction they have helped cause or retire from public life.
The war in Iraq, is, from a British perspective, all but over.
Now it's time for a reckoning.