What Others Are Saying

The Baltimore Sun

Britain's decision last week to begin withdrawing a sizable contingent of its soldiers from Iraq marks a significant turning point in the four-year conflict.

While the U.S. is pouring more troops into the fractured and violent nation, the British, our stalwart allies, aren't cutting and running, but they are undeniably walking away. The alliance is cracking.

Leaving aside Vice President Dick Cheney's risible spin that the British force reduction is a "sign of success" in Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision came amid harsh military and political realities. It's true that the Shiite-dominated Basra region, where Britain's 7,000 troops have been stationed, is more stable than Baghdad.

But in his withdrawal announcement, Mr. Blair conceded that Basra "is still a difficult and dangerous place." The Washington Institute for Near East Policy last week called it "factionalized, lawless, ruled as a kleptocracy and subject to militia primacy." ...

The British move ups the pressure on President Bush and his surge plan. The same military and political factors that forced Mr. Blair's hand bedevil the American president. ...

Mr. Bush often says that U.S. troops will stand down from Iraq when Iraqi forces are able to stand up.

The British drawdown will be a litmus test for Iraqi self-government. Will the Iraqis be able to control their own?

For better or for worse, the British action and the coming Iraqi reaction may well be a preview of America's future in that violence-wracked land, where hopes were once so high.

-The Dallas Morning News

Thanks to state regulations, high energy prices and greater awareness of the need for conservation, California uses less energy per capita than any other state in the country ... .

The development of consumer-friendly hybrid cars, more efficient appliances, stringent rules on home insulation, solar power rebates and using natural gas instead of electricity promise to keep California in the lead in curbing energy consumption.

But it is not enough for California to go it alone. This state is proof that the rest of the nation can cut energy consumption significantly without suffering a loss in one's quality of life.

If the entire country had done what California has accomplished in the past three decades, we would not be as dependent on foreign oil or creating nearly as much carbon dioxide as we do now. It is past time for the rest of the nation to catch up.

- Contra Costa (Calif.) Times

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