There’s recently been much debate when US/UK forces will leave Iraq.
As Britain [reduces troop levels by 10%](http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,,1730436,00.html), Bush has been talkingabout
“the goal of having the Iraqis control more territory than the coalition by the end of 2006″
Regarding Britain, the Telegraph has two articles – [one](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/03/05/wirq05.xml) saying all British soldiers will be out of Iraq in one year, [the other](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/03/08/wirq108.xml) backpedalling to a figure of two years.
And the parade of politicians pushing one timetable or another continues – Karl Rove [restating](http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=4619856) that “the administration will not pull American troops out of Iraq until victory is won”. [Senator Biden](http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060312/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq_2;_ylt=AvJUtweMyZFvM1TcJWOI3AoUewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA2ZGZwam4yBHNlYwNmYw–) wanting them out after the summer
This debate isn’t going to stop, but there isn’t much to be gained from following every twist and turn.
But if ground troops are removed, how will the West maintian its influence in Iraq?
Back in December, Seymour Hersh wrote a [long article for the New Yorker](http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/051205fa_fact), claiming that it would be through increased use of airpower.
Hersh is already being proved right – a [news report yesterday](http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/special_packages/iraq/14098141.htm) says that
“daily bombing runs and jet-missile launches have increased by more than 50% in the past five months, compared with the same period last year”
This is something that should concern us. That’s not only becase, as the [Lancet mortality figures](http://www.jhsph.edu/Refugee/Front%20Page%20News/Document%20Links/Mortality_Lancet%20final.pdf) showed in 2004, helicopter gunships leave many civilian casualties. It’s also because there is an entire public debate which is missing the point – withdrawing ground troops is not the same as reducing Western influence over Iraq