British Prime Minister Gordon Brown flew into Iraq and essentially told the British troops there, “Mission accomplished. Major combat operations are over.”

We’ve heard that somewhere before. But Brown insisted that the troops had done what they set out to do — stabilize the situation in the Basra region sufficiently to hand over to the Iraqi security forces — and that combat operations would cease in two weeks.

“We have managed to get Iraq into a far better place,” the prime minister said. He plans to reduce British forces from the current 4,500 to 2,500 early next year and maybe have them out altogether by March.

To American ears this sounded very much like the Aiken Formula, after Vermont Sen. George Aiken’s counsel for extricating ourselves from the Vietnam War: Declare victory and go home. And indeed the British tabloid The Sun headlined a paraphrase of Brown’s remarks to the troops: “Happy Xmas, your war is over.”

The Brits’ war may indeed be over, mission accomplished or not, but we suspect our part of the war is far from over. If only it were that simple.

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