The Middle East and North-Eastern Muslim Africa have both proved to be unhappy places for Great Britain and far too often our involvement in various corners of this neck of the woods has ended in tears.

We had a mandate in Palestine until we abandoned ship in 1948, leaving behind us an intractable mess that continues to this day. Not that the mess is all down to us: the inhabitants must bear the lion’s share of blame but certainly Palestine was not the British Empire’s finest hour.

The Sudan and Egypt claimed its fair share of victims from General Gordon to Anthony Eden. Afghanistan has been the graveyard of British troops in several utterly failed episodes since the days of Queen Victoria. Iraq, when still part of the Ottoman Empire, saw one of Britain’s worst defeats of the Great War when a force of some 12000 surrendered to the Turks in 1916 at Kut-al-Amara and some 23000 other casualties were incurred in the course of the campaign (see an account of the campaign here). The wily Rashid Ali caused us to bottle up large numbers of troops there in 1941 whilst the Germans tried to seize control of the country and its oil from Syria which helped prolong the North Africa campaign.

Now we are bogged down in a thoroughly intractable war in Iraq. Though the war which removed Saddam Hussein was an entirely justified affair, even if for rather different reasons from those so glibly and untruthfully advanced by Vanity Blair and his Government (of which Gordon Brown was a senior member), and was expeditiously and efficiently conducted, the war which has succeeded it has been conducted with mind-boggling and spectacular incompetence, principally by the Americans but this Government has played its part in the tragedy and cannot evade responsibility for it by cutting and running as it is now.

The message from Gordon Brown today is as clear as you could wish:

Im Irak nichts Neues

The retreat from Basra Palace this morning is an indication, however the spinners wish to dress it up, that Brown has decided to cut and run at the first decent opportunity so that he can clear the decks for a general Election at which he will roundly declare of his own consent to the war as a case of ‘Tony forced me to do it’ which he thinks, will somehow get him and his rotten little Junta off the hook. Many will see our retreat as a dishonourable act of leaving our closes Allies, the USA, in the lurch for the sole purpose of saving Brown’s electoral chances. But why should we be surprised that Brown is acting dishonourably? His stance on the EU Constitution referendum is as dishonourable an act as any since Munich in 1938.

The worst of this is that scuttling away with our tails between our legs betrays the memory of those gallant men and women who have lost their lives in the Basra region since the war began and demeans those who will remain maimed and disabled as a result of their wounds, for our retreat will be seen as a defeat and a shameful one at that. The dead and the wounded will have suffered in a lost cause.

All so that Brown can get him and his rotten Camarilla re-elected.

The taste in my mouth just at the moment is one of green bile.