You may have heard in recent days that Britain is considering moving some of its troops from the relatively quiet area around Basra and bring them nearer to Baghdad to back up US troops.
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon says Britain will have failed in its duty as an ally if it does not agree to a request from America to relieve US troops in more dangerous areas of Iraq. The US wants back-up in an area nearer to Baghdad and a final decision is expected later this week.
Mr Hoon has rejected claims that the request is political and an effort to boost George W Bush's election hopes.
He said it was designed to free up US forces for operations in other areas.
There was a "very clear operational justification" for the request which had been received on October 10, he added.
"We want to make clear that the request is a military request and although it is linked to elections it is not linked to the US elections," Mr Hoon told MPs in a Commons statement.
The thing that I find bizarre about this is that Blair's government keeps having to deny the charge that they're doing this to help Bush in the elections.
This claim is ludicrous on its face. The Pentagon didn't request the move until October 10th. So far it's taken Blair's government a little over a week to consider the proposal and it's likely it will take a few more days. After that it will take at least 3 days (my best guess) to move the troops, their vehicles, and their baggage to the Baghdad area and probably a couple more days to get them up to speed on local conditions.
All this means that there would only be about a week of British troops operating at full strength before the elections. Unless you believe that the insurgents will be instantly routed as soon as the British show up, how could any one believe that this even could help Bush at the polls?
Or am I totally off base here?