A top British commander speaks candidly about the grim outlook in Iraq. The straight-talking chief of the British Army, Gen. Richard Dannatt, gave interviews to the London Daily Mail and the BBC that had 10 Downing Street scrambling. But will his more reticent American peers follow his lead?
“It’s an absolute fact that in some parts of the country, the fact that we are there causes people to attack us, and in that sense, our presence exacerbates violence,” he said. The original hope of installing a liberal democratic government is out of reach and might have been “naïve.” “We should aim for a lower ambition,” he argued — just keeping Iraq a unitary state. He has “much more optimism we can get it right in Afghanistan” than in Iraq. Though the British army “doesn’t do surrender,” he said he wanted its 7,000 troops out “sometime soon” because “time is not our friend — we can’t be here forever at this level. I have an army to look after, which is going to be successful in current operations, but I want an army in five years’ time, ten years’ time; I don’t want to break it on this one.”