Bringing troops home from Iraq is a mark of failure--except when it is the sign of victory. The looming decision by the British government to withdraw from Iraq was the Story of the Day, although the news broke so late that the networks covered it with live stand-ups rather than produced videotape packages. CBS and NBC led their newscasts from London. ABC, which specializes in Sex-and-Family stories, led with a premature baby survivor instead.

The 7,100 British soldiers in Iraq are to be completely pulled out by the end of next year. NBC's Keith Miller gave us Prime Minister Tony Blair's formal rationale: "Operation Sinbad, securing the city of Basra, is a success. The Iraqi army has now taken up front line positions there." CBS' Mark Phillips provided the background: "Blair has been under huge political pressure at home" because the war is "very unpopular."

All three White House correspondents chipped in. "This is good news," unnamed sources told NBC's David Gregory (at the tail of the Miller videostream). ABC's Martha Raddatz (no link) was skeptical about the " success" spin coming out of London. Basra "seems to be far from completely secure," she observed and offered the theory that the British want out in order to send more troops to Afghanistan. "They are stretched thin. Does that sound familiar?" Unidentified White House aides told CBS' Jim Axelrod that they "would like this to be a model for what would happen with US troops." Instead, he shrugged, "more are going in."

And CBS returned to Phillips in London for a celebrity closer on the Iraq theme. Prince Harry, the Queen of England's grandson, is an army lieutenant and his regiment may be sent to Iraq before Prime Minister Blair's pullout is complete. Phillips showed us a movie clip from Lawrence Olivier's Henry V to illustrate how modern wars are "much more complicated" than the "clearer" battle lines of Harry's ancestral namesake. Phillips forgets Henry V's infamy at the Battle of Agincourt: he did not have his prisoners of war humiliated abu-Ghraib-style; he had them massacred.


In fairness to Mark Phillips, Henry V's men were more interested in ransoming than m,n massacring...

You must be logged in to this website to leave a comment. Please click here to log in so you can participate in the discussion.