I suspect most pro-liberation readers will have been particularly pleased to have heard the reports suggesting there was a people’s uprising in Basra being given armed support by British soilders. If this is how things spin out (and lets see because the talk of revolt has receeded somewhat since last night’s news) it would be the most vivid example of British troops acting as a liberation force.

Not so according to John Pilger in the Daily Mirror:

TODAY is a day of shame for the British military as it declares the Iraqi city of Basra, with a stricken population of 600,000, a “military target”.

Dreadful stuff as you would expect. But The Mirror is a mixed bag at the moment as it finds itself in the unusual position of being an anti-war tabloid.

It was particularly interesting to see this item contrasting the ‘Star Wars’ might of the US military with Britain’s more hands-on approach, headlined – USA HAS THE GEAR, BUT WE’VE HAD THE PRACTICE

It is written by Andy McNab, no peacenik leftie, of course, and the author of the best selling soilder’s story, Bravo Two Zero, after describing the US’s hi-tech weaponry says: “No computer can win this for you. From painful lessons learned in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo, our troops know from experience that the local people’s hearts will come later as they continue to fight the war while carrying out humanitarian missions at great personal risk.”

I wonder, could this line be the Mirror’s way out of their editorial conundrum? By backing our boys to the hilt and contrasting their successes with the ‘cock-ups of the gung-ho Yanks’ etc they would be able to be patriotic while still tapping into the populist anti-Americanism that was surely behind their peacenik stand in the first place.

After all how many Brits quietly wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we were running the show and just borrowed the weapons off the septics? Actually in my pub last night there was nothing quiet about the bloke expressing just that view.

A hugely cynical and opportunist position for the Mirror? Of course yes, but I wouldn’t put it past their editor would you?