By Max Boot
Tony Blair's decision to withdraw 1,600 troops from Iraq is understandable. The prime minister had to make a difficult decision about where to allocate Britain's scarce resources, and he decided, reasonably enough, that the top priority was to send reinforcements to Afghanistan, where 5,500 British troops are struggling to hold back a Taliban onslaught.
The tragedy is that he had to rob Peter to pay Paul because Britain can't maintain 7,000 troops in Iraq and 7,000 in Afghanistan. Those are hardly huge numbers for a country of 60 million with the fifth-largest national economy in the world. Yet even as Britain has continued to play a leading role in world affairs, it has allowed its defenses to molder.