British forces have long held what may be seen as an enviable, if controversial, record in defeating insurgents around the globe. From Malaya, through Aden to Ireland, British troops have largely been seen as 'successful'. Iraq however threatens to compromise this reputation. The insurgency remains intense, civil war threatens to engulf the country, British troops are dying in numbers and some troops have been accused of war crimes. How are we to explain the failures in Iraq? In this article I offer a version of events based on a Clausewitzian framework. I demonstrate that British troops in Iraq are deployed in a 'strategic void' as a result of political failures in both the UK and US, which means troops are compromised, vulnerable and strategically aimless. Their actions are crucially detached from higher political objectives. Failure to heed Clausewitz's admonitions has led to a situation in which British 'strategy' amounts to hope, wait and see, while British troops fight, do and die.