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To Make the World England

12:59 PM, Dec 18, 2008 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Yesterday British PM Gordon Brown announced that British forces would be largely withdrawn from southern Iraq by the end of July. Once numbering 46,000 troops, British forces have been reduced to around 4,100--the bulk of which were deployed to the Basra area in southern Iraq. As British forces in Iraq wound down from the 2003 high, Her Majesty's Armed Forces decreased in overall strength. Today the British military is in a sad state of affairs--largely neglected after a decade plus of Labour Party rule.

From a purely historical perspective, one wonders about the legacy of British foray into Iraq. Charles Johnston, Governor of Aden in the early 1960s, wrote that the Middle East was where the British lost their confidence in their ability to deal with situations. Johnston was lamenting the Suez crisis, but his words are just as relevant to 21st century Iraq, where the performance of the Brits in Basra was mediocre given their impressive history.

The slow bleed of England's power and influence is directly proportional to the increase in world instability. America never developed the taste for exporting our values of democracy and free markets like the British (those who do are snidely derided as neocons), nor were we able to replicate their remarkable ability to turn insignificant and remote little corners of the world into economic powerhouses (see Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Dubai). Though, with that said, I have high hopes for what could potentially be achieved in Iraq.

If President-elect Obama asked for an increased British presence in Afghanistan, there's little doubt that our cousins across the Atlantic would respond. But, absent such a request, this may be an ideal time for the British to rediscover that famous 'stiff upper lip' that made them great. With the conservative movement on the island growing, so grows a profound distaste for the erosion of superior British customs under the wishy-washy guise of multiculturalism. Now is the time for them withdraw, recharge, rebuild, and rediscover their inner greatness.

America needs a strong Britain and America needs a strong British Armed Forces. When the two nations are confident in themselves and each other, the rest of the world reaps in the benefits. Look no further than the Reagan-Thatcher coalition that trampled communism and ushered in over a decade of peace and prosperity.

British poet Susannah Centlivre once lamented "Where are the rough brave Britons to be found with hearts of oak, so much of old renowned?" No doubt many on that wonderful little island are asking themselves that very question.