British General Calls for Pullout 'Soon' From Iraq

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Associated Press
Friday, October 13, 2006

LONDON -- Britain's new army commander said British troops in Iraq are making the situation worse and must leave the country soon, according to an interview published Thursday.

Gen. Richard Dannatt said the British military should "get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems," according to the interview with the Daily Mail released on the paper's Web site.

"Whatever consent we may have had in the first place" from the Iraqi people "has largely turned to intolerance," he said. The Defense Ministry and Prime Minister Tony Blair's office said they could not immediately comment.

"We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear," Dannatt said. "As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time."

Dannatt was severely critical of British and American planning for postwar Iraq, describing the rationale behind the invasion as flawed.

"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," he said.

"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 naive hope history will judge. I don't think we are going to do that. I think we should aim for a lower ambition."


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