British in Iraq: Screwup or Success?

There has been some  talk lately about how mediocre the British performance in Iraq has been, particularly from a Counter-Insurgency perspective and some would go as far as to brand their mission a failure.  There’s an interesting discussion in the comments of this Abu Muqawama post where one of the readers gives what I think is an accurate evaluation of the British mission:

I have to say though I think the UK forces did achieve their strategic goal for Basra: don’t get killed thereby providing bad press, provide political support for the Americans by existing and keep Basra as a bauble to show the world Britain is 2nd in the Coalition/still influential. Sadly that goal was rather incompatible with security or COIN in general.

Maybe from a tactical COIN perspective the Brits haven’t distinguished themselves in Iraq, but that’s not why the politicians sent them there in the first place.   As this commenter said, the British government achieved their strategic goals.  Doing COIN well isn’t necessarily one of them.

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