The tide is changing on the homefronts

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced yesterday that his government will be slashing the number of British troops in Iraq to half by this spring, and possibly the rest of the troops will be out by the end of 2008. Brown claims that the reduction is due to the "calmer" situation in Basra, where British troops are currently based.

According to yesterday's International Herald Tribune, Brown's rationale is "The Iraqis are now able to take responsibility for the security themselves."

It would start with British forces training and mentoring Iraqi security forces, securing supply routes to the Iranian border and being able to provide back-up to local security forces. In the second phase, starting in the spring of 2008, British troops would retain a more limited ability to intervene by force, Brown said.

Brown's decision was also determined by the growing anti-war movement in the UK and the British Army.

The White House, of course, is not amused by this decision. According to Toby Dodge, a senior fellow at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, Washington is feeling "uneasy" about this decision.

But Washington has bigger problems on their own shores. In Sunday's Boston Globe, Enlistment of African Americans in the military has declined by 58 percent since 2000.

Defense Department statistics show the number of young black enlistees has fallen by more than 58 percent since fiscal year 2000. The Army in particular has been hit hard: In fiscal year 2000, according to the Pentagon statistics, more than 42,000 black men and women applied to enlist; in fiscal year 2005, the most recent for which a racial breakdown is available, just over 17,000 signed up.

African Americans have had a longstanding relationship with the US military; many of whom saw it as an opportunity get into perks such as health insurance, good salary and way out of poverty.

However, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the onset of the so-called "War on Terror," African Americans increasing disagree with the Iraq War. Specifically 83 percent of African Americans disapproved of the invasion. In addition, African Americans lack trust in the Bush Administration, especially in light of the preceived dearth of support for victims of Hurrican Katrina.

"Why would we go over there and help them [Iraqis], when [the US government] can't help us over here?" he said, referring to the cleanup after Katrina.

The war "is unnecessary," Jackson said. "It's not our war. We got our own war here, just staying alive," he added, noting his hometown of Philadelphia has racked up more than 200 homicides so far this year, most involving young black men.


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