T Nation

UK General on Iraq US Policy


Fresh UK attack on US Iraq policy

[i]A second key British general has criticised US post-war policy in Iraq.

Maj Gen Tim Cross, who was the most senior UK officer involved in post-war planning, told the Sunday Mirror US policy was "fatally flawed".

His comments came after Gen Sir Mike Jackson, head of the Army during the invasion, told the Daily Telegraph US policy was "intellectually bankrupt".

John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN, dismissed Sir Mike's criticism as "way off the mark".

The Ministry of Defence played down the comments by Sir Mike, now retired, saying he was entitled to express his opinion on his former job.

'Lack of detail'

Maj Gen Cross, also retired, said he had raised serious concerns about potential post-war problems in Iraq with the then US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

But he said Mr Rumsfeld "dismissed" or "ignored" the warnings.

"Right from the very beginning we were all very concerned about the lack of detail that had gone into the post-war plan and there is no doubt that Rumsfeld was at the heart of that process," he said.

There is no doubt that with hindsight the US post-war plan was fatally flawed and many of us sensed that at the time
Maj Gen Tim Cross

"I had lunch with Rumsfeld in February in Washington - before the invasion in March 2003 - and raised concerns about the need to internationalise the reconstruction of Iraq and work closely with the United Nations."

Maj Gen Cross, 59, who was deputy head of the coalition's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, said he also raised concerns over the number of troops available to maintain security in Iraq.

"He didn't want to hear that message," he said. "The US had already convinced themselves that following the invasion Iraq would emerge reasonably quickly as a stable democracy."

He added: "There is no doubt that with hindsight the US post-war plan was fatally flawed and many of us sensed that at the time."


In an interview published on Saturday, Sir Mike told the Telegraph that a claim by Mr Rumsfeld's that US forces "don't do nation-building" was "nonsensical".

He criticised the decision to hand control of planning the administration of Iraq after the war to the Pentagon.

We should have kept the Iraqi security services in being
Gen Sir Mike Jackson

He also described the disbanding of the Iraqi army and security forces after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as "very short-sighted".

"We should have kept the Iraqi security services in being and put them under the command of the coalition," he said.

Politicians from across the spectrum have come out in support of Sir Mike's comments, made ahead of the serialisation of his autobiography in the Telegraph.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Conservative former foreign secretary and defence secretary, told the BBC that Mr Rumsfeld was "incompetent".

'Extraordinary decision'

However, Mr Bolton told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that Sir Mike had "read into a version of history that simply is not supported by the evidence".

"And I can see where he'd have a parochial view from the military perspective. I don't think he saw some of the larger political debates.

"I'm not saying that we got it right in Washington because I've made my own criticisms. His just happen to be way off the mark, very simplistic, I think in a sense limited by the role that he had."

He said it was important to know whether Sir Mike had raised his concerns when he first had them.

The Telegraph also reports that, in his autobiography, Sir Mike says the US approach to fighting global terrorism was "inadequate" as it focused on military power rather than diplomacy and nation-building.

The US Department of Defence said: "Divergent viewpoints are a hallmark of open, democratic societies."

A spokeswoman for the US State Department said she would not comment on Sir Mike's views.

His comments follow a series of critical remarks from US officials about the British attitude towards Iraq.

BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood said Sir Mike's comments may put further strain on the British-US operation in Iraq. [/i]

A modern age Andersen tale relating "truth seen by the eyes of an elderly"?


exactly how involved were these generals? were they in a position so see all the planning that allegedly took place? or were they just on the outside looking in?

Even though i am against the invasion of Iraq, we are there now, and instead of saying how bad the war is or how such and such stuffed something up, why don't we try to find a way to solve it instead of excessively critising the perpetrators, yes they made a mistake (in my opinion) and a pretty grave one at that, but what does repeadted crtiscisms accomplish here? why don't these generals offer soluctiosn to the problem instead of naming them?


From the article:

"Maj Gen Tim Cross, who was the most senior UK officer involved in post-war planning"


"Gen Sir Mike Jackson, head of the Army during the invasion"

You don't get any more insider than this!

This is a good question. I'm guessing that since they didn't agree with the policy and were allegedly vocal about it, they're trying to disassociate their names from the blunder. For prosperity and just in case the ICJ starts investigating war crimes in Iraq and such.

That said, I'm sure they have a few solutions in mind, and I'm willing to bet that they all involve diplomacy.


Well, part of the solution for the future is to avoid repeating the mistakes of Iraq. If just one guy mentions them once, it's easy to dismiss him. When people from all over the world, some of them authorities in the field and business of war, keep repeating how various aspects of the war were unplanned, mismanaged and badly executed, some of it might stick and we won't have another Iraq anytime soon.


Crickets from the right?


Why should we listen to a general from a has-been power?

Maybe next we should listen to Ottoman leaders who knew how to control Iraq?

I do, however, think the Iraq invasion was a mistake. We should have simply MOAB'd the whole place and let a few buffalo roam.


A has-been power?

Fuck you. We didn't seem so has-been when we were giving you the international credibility to wage this war in the first place, or when your Presidant was calling us your strongest ally.

And now we are withdrawing from Basra in a (somewhat) orderly fashion as we always said we would, the Americans start to pass the buck and criticise us for containing as much of the US activity-inspired retaliations compared to their efforts in Bagdhad, while the civilians of the city are terrified that American forces will reoccupy the city, resulting in the subsequent chaos and disorder they have engendered elsewhere.

Why should you listen to a has-been power? Because it would seem that your own generals have made such a fundamental pigs-ear of the conflict that surely you should listen to SOMEONE. And why not us, who actually have a fucking clue how to achieve objectives on foreign soil that cannot be overcome with 'shock and awe'.

I appreciate that was a wind-up post HH but Im bored so I'll play along.



Headhunter, that's not a very nice way to refer to your staunchest allies!

No wonder you don't have any friends left...


Because he has experience and know-how relevant to the issue on which he is commenting? Unlike media pundits and other loudmouthed douchebags that pass as "authoritative" on the subject, he has earned his stars actually doing the job of conducting men in war? Has Ann Coulter ever led an operation against an armed enemy?

The relative power of modern day UK isn't very relevant in evaluating whether what he says should be listened to or not.

Why not? If they can teach you something about the local mores and custom; give you something that makes your job easier, why would you dismiss them outright?

This is the great American failing: to believe that you know better than everyone else about anything and everything. To ridicule and reject the lessons of countries that have many hundreds or even thousand years of history.

Maybe if your leaders didn't so often present that dangerous combination of ignorance with arrogance, you wouldn't be so often surprised that your expectations of "being greeted as liberators" don't materialize. You could avoid wasting thousands of lives and billions of taxpayer money in never-ending quagmires that compound the problem more than they resolve it.

Operation Iraqi-Free Iraq? Operation Glass Desert? Operation Hitler Was A Rank Amateur?


Because if you do it may set a useful precedent for yourselves; so in a decade's time or so when china are running the show perhaps they'll toss you a bone every now and then and ask your opinion.