To the Editor:
Niall Ferguson's assertion ("Hegemony or Empire?" September/October 2003) that the British army's capture of Baghdad in 1917 was similar to the U.S.-led coalition's operation in 2003 is inexact. Far from sweeping to Baghdad in a matter of weeks, the United Kingdom's first attempt to capture the city in 1915 resulted in a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Turks at Kut. Ferguson is correct in stating that General Sir Frederick Maude captured Baghdad in March 1917, but the campaign did not move fast until its final stage: Maude required two months to clear the west bank of the Tigris before he could advance.
A historical footnote: U.S. Marines repaired the British army's World War I field cemetery at Kut earlier this year during their dash (a real one this time) to Baghdad.