Blair's in trouble

It just does my heart good to see Blair getting blindsided by one of the British army's top Generals.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the chief of the general staff, has already spoken out on soldier's pay, living conditions, length of tour and medical treatment. But then he launched quietly competent attack on the situation in Iraq and the Prime Minister's handling of it.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, Sir Dannatt said:

I am going to stand up for what is right for the Army. Honesty is what it is about. The truth will out. We have got to speak the truth. Leaking and spinning, at the end of the day, are not helpful.

He went on:

I think history will show that the planning for what happened after the initial successful war-fighting phase was poor, probably based more on optimism than sound planning.

History will show that a vacuum was created and into the vacuum malign elements moved. The hope that we might have been able to get out of Iraq in 12, 18, 24 months after the initial start in 2003 has proved fallacious. Now hostile elements have got a hold it has made our life much more difficult in Baghdad and in Basra.

The original intention was that we put in place a liberal democracy that was an exemplar for the region, was pro-West and might have a beneficial effect on the balance within the Middle East.

That was the hope. Whether that was a sensible or naïve hope, history will judge. I don't think we are going to do that. I think we should aim for a lower ambition.

He also said:

[We should] get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems.

We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear. As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited into a country, but we weren't invited, certainly by those in Iraq at the time. Let's face it, the military campaign we fought in 2003 effectively kicked the door in.

That is a fact. I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing around the world are caused by our presence in Iraq, but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them.

He also made comments about Iran:

Particularly with Iran — if we paint them into a corner I think that is being too simplistic. Dialogue and negotiation make eminent sense and military posturing doesn't.

But far better, IMO, is the way that British troops immediately spoke up in praise of the General's comments.

It's good to see that the British army is keeping up the tradition of having at least one officer who cares more about the troops than he does about his political wellbeing.

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