Leaving aside the pros and cons of a decision to quit Basra, one of the more disturbing aspects of the withdrawal will be what happens to the interpreters who have been working with the British. The Foreign Office, it seems, is unwilling to grant asylum to the 91-odd interpreters (and their families) who have been working for the British Army, and who can expect to be treated as collaborators and traitors by the militias once the army pulls out. It's a high risk job in the first place; meanwhile Defense Secretary Des Brown is saying that up to 20,000 Iraqis have been working for the British since the invasion in 2003, and that trying to help them is "impractical".......THAT GORDON BROWN WOULD LISTEN.
...Here's my considered advice to the British government: if you think there's even the remotest shadow of a chance that at some future time you'll need to send troops overseas, let all 20,000 of your collaborators (and their families) in. Full right of residence and/or British citizenship, plus a golden handshake sufficient to buy a crappy little Barratt box in a new town somewhere in the midlands: nothing less will do. Because if you don't, you're going to find it a hell of a lot harder to buy quislings and spies eyes and ears on the ground the next time your Dear Leader decides to play Sancho Panza to some doomed quixotic adventure...
I just saw Gordon Brown's press conference on the BBC, and Brown announced that the UK would be putting substantial money towards helping those who helped the British forces resettle: in other parts of Iraq, in other parts of the region, or even in the United Kingdom itself. This is exactly what the Foreign Office didn't want him to do; shame on them and good for him.
As for the drawdown to 2,500 troops next year, it's welcome news, though I suspect it will mean that the Americans just make up the shortfall rather than following along with the UK's strategy of overwatch.