Six years of carnage for what, exactly?

THERE WILL be no victory parades, I think. Next March, fully six years after they arrived, the last of Britain's troops will begin to leave Basra. By June, reportedly, only a token few hundred of the 4100 remnant of a 46,000-strong force will remain to train Iraqis and assist the new American tenants at the city's airport. The British are packing up their tents, their tanks, and their pretensions.

The withdrawal - "Operation Archive" - could yet go wrong, of course. There are regional elections planned for Iraq on January 31. Yet more sectarian blood-letting has not been ruled out in a divided, dysfunctional, shattered country. After six years, nevertheless, we still propose to declare peace, of sorts.

Meanwhile, another battle, a legal one, has been taking place in London. The government has been waging war on its own freedom of information legislation. It has been fighting to prevent the disclosure of Cabinet minutes recording what was said, and by whom, when the decision was being taken to invade. Six years on, in the government's view, that is still not for us to know.

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