01 September 2007

Sir Mike Jackson launches attack on US policy in Iraq

General Sir Mike Jackson , who served as Chief of the General Staff (head of the British Army) during the invasion of Iraq, has launched a scathing attack on the United States for the way it handled the post-war administration of the country. Writing in his autobiography Soldier his comments are the most outspoken criticism by a senior British officer of US military policy and they highlight the tensions between the British command and the Pentagon during the build-up to and the aftermath of the Iraq campaign in 2003.

Sir Mike’s anger is particularly directed at Donald Rumsfeld who he considers "intellectually bankrupt". He accuses Rumsfeld of being "one of those most responsible for the current situation in Iraq" for his refusal to deploy enough troops to maintain law and order after the collapse of Saddam's regime, and for discarding detailed plans for the post-conflict administration of Iraq that had been drawn up by the US State Department.

Sir Mike views failure of the US-led coalition to suppress the Iraqi insurgency was down to the Pentagon's refusal to deploy enough troops. A combined force of 400,000 would be needed to control a country the size of Iraq, but even with the extra troops recently deployed for the US military's "surge" the coalition has struggled to reach half that figure. Furthermore the decision to hand control of the post-invasion running of Iraq to the Pentagon meant that "All the planning carried out by the State Department went to waste." For Mr Rumsfeld and his neo-conservative supporters "it was an ideological article of faith that the coalition forces would be accepted as a liberating army. Once you had decapitated Saddam Hussein's regime, a model democratic society would inevitably emerge."

He and other senior British officers were opposed to the Pentagon's decision to disband the Iraqi army after Saddam's overthrow, a decision he says "was very short-sighted … We should have kept the Iraqi security services in being and put them under the command of the coalition." He also reveals that he and other senior officers had doubts about the weapons of mass destruction dossier presented by the Blair government in late 2002. "Its release caused a stir in military circles", particularly the suggestion that the UK could face a threat of attack at 45 minutes' notice. "We all knew that it was impossible for Iraq to threaten the UK mainland. Saddam's Scud missiles could barely have reached our bases on Cyprus, and certainly no more distant target."

However he was satisfied about the legality of invading Iraq by careful study of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and concluded that action was "legitimate under international law without a 'second' resolution. "Having had some part to play in putting Slobodan Milosevic into a cell in The Hague, I had no wish to be his next-door neighbour."

This is powerful stuff and a damning indictment on US policy in Iraq coming from someone who would have been intimately involved in the invasion of Iraq. It is clear that his criticisms are aimed, not at the invasion itself – he supported the action or at least considered it legal – but the way in which the government of Iraq, post-invasion, was handled. It certainly does not besmirch the memory of those who have lost their lives in Iraq over the last four years.

I would have once thought it unusual for an officer in his position to be so outspoken. However, Sir Mike’s successor, Sir Richard Dannatt went on record last year saying “The point that I'm trying to make is the mere fact that we are still in some places exacerbates violence from those who want to destabilise Iraqi democracy”. In a different field, retired general Lord Ramsbotham was certainly independently minded during his tenure as Chief Inspector of Prisons.


Stacie said...

Oh, the sheer and utter incompetance of the leaders of the Iraq War is enough to make me spit nails. Bush and his cronies have jus destroyed a country, destabailzed a region and thrown an entire civilian population into turmoil. Mission Accomplished indeed.

beakerkin said...

Lets roll this back.

The above critique is far different than the unhinged familiar commie tin foil hat conspiracy crowd. This critique is aimed at specifics, not the actual war itself.

One can find similar discussions with every historic event.

Do remember, Turkey's naked shakedown attempt altered the battle plans.

Anonymous said...

The US has not done anyone favour by building up this "War on terror". For the people in Iraq and Afghanistan the only terror they face is from US. We obviously wont know this or even see and hear about it but, whatever anyone say's the world is not a better place since US has decided to police the world.

Gen Sir Mile Jackson is true in bringing views and opinions into the public domain, because the sooner people like us stand back and have a good think about it, the more lives we are going to save both in the next country to be invaded and the soldiers on both sides.

The world should not have a super power like the US who can't even fight a one sided battle. The British on the other hand are 10 times more better than the US.

Shame on US

The Lone Beader® said...

Someone need to tell GWB, "Wrong War".

jams o donnell said...

Beakerkin, agreed. Jackson isn't saying the war was wrong but he certainly thinks its execution was dreadful - It is a major atttack from someone who is well positioned to make such a comment

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Interesting, I have just read this:


Notice that ' "A" for raising the idea, a "C" for implementation and I give his opponents, who abandoned the idea, an "F," '

Strangely in tune with the General...

jams o donnell said...

Personally I thought the Iraq invasion was a fool's errand. On the other hand there may have been a chance of a better outcome but that was thrown away by the arrogance at the top in the White House. Thanks for the link. An interesting read Snoopy

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I don't have much to add. I will say that it's a good thing General Mike Jackson shortened it from Michael Jackson-otherwise they'd fear having their leader moonwalk into battle while wearing a sequined jacket and one white glove.

jams o donnell said...

Obviously you haven't studied modern miltary batledress and tactics! Seriously I must do something on teh First Earth Battalion one day

Steve Bates said...

Putting aside whether the Iraq war was a good idea from a policy standpoint, and also whether the premises offered for the invasion were even remotely true (you know where I stand on those issues), General Sir Michael Jackson is far too kind in declaring Rumsfeld merely "intellectually bankrupt". If we had to have an old Cold War relic in charge, there were quite a few still alive that Bush could have chosen who would have had a better understanding of both military and diplomatic matters. Rumsfeld was always an incompetent hack, selected for his personal loyalty to Bush, and very little else.

That said, I appreciate Gen. Jackson's candid assessment on Rumsfeld and his military... I guess one has to say "strategy," though that, too, seems too kind. Jackson's statement means more coming from someone with expertise who lives on your side of the ocean.

jams o donnell said...

Even though, Steve, it's pretty hard hitting stuff when you consider it comes from a quarter you would expect to stay quiet, or at least not make such coments until the dust has long settled.

I thought that the invasion was a fools errand