Japan has ordered the withdrawal of its two ships supporting US-led operations in Afghanistan.This may have be a little more devastating to both the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq than the lone Icelandic "soldier"'s loss was to the coalition of the willing in Iraq. Which is partially the intent of Japan's move:
The move follows the government's failure to agree a deal with the opposition to extend the mission beyond the end of its mandate on 1 November.
The ships involved - a destroyer and a refueller, with 340 troops - are to head for Japan later on Thursday. They last refuelled a ship on Monday.The citizens of Japan don't want to be viewed as supporting the mission in Iraq, for all of the obvious reasons. As per usual, the official American reaction to this is more about their problem with the perception of this news - "spin this" - than the real support problems this may pose:
Japan's mission has been dogged by allegations that Japan supplied far more fuel to US forces than officially recorded - encouraging speculation that Tokyo might have helped supply the US war in Iraq, not just its operations in Afghanistan.
The US ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, said a permanent withdrawal would send a very bad message to the international community and terrorists."Bad Message! Naughty liberal media message!" Not to mention how Joe and Suzy Sixpack may react to this news. I wonder how the American Media spin cycle will run with this story, if they don't run from it? I can see the headlines now:
"Japan Pulls Out as Victory is on the March!"
March of the year 2057, that is.
It might take as long as half a century before U.S. troops can leave the volatile Middle East, according to retired Army Gen. John Abizaid.Got that? 50 years in Iraq... A Half a century of Americans getting killed there.
"Over time, we will have to shift the burden of the military fight from our forces directly to regional forces, and we will have to play an indirect role, but we shouldn't assume for even a minute that in the next 25 to 50 years the American military might be able to come home, relax and take it easy, because the strategic situation in the region doesn't seem to show that as being possible," Abizaid said Wednesday at Carnegie Mellon University.