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Ex-British army chief lambastes Rumsfeld

September 02, 2007|From Times Wire Services

LONDON — The head of the British army during the Iraq invasion described former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's approach as "intellectually bankrupt," according to comments published Saturday.

Gen. Mike Jackson, who retired in August 2006 as chief of the general staff, says in his autobiography that Rumsfeld was "one of those most responsible for the current situation in Iraq," according to excerpts published by the Daily Telegraph.

For Rumsfeld and his supporters, "it was an ideological article of faith that the coalition soldiers would be accepted as a liberating army," Jackson writes.

Jackson also criticizes the U.S. approach to tackling global terrorism as inadequate, accusing Washington of relying too heavily on military power at the expense of nation-building and diplomacy.

He described Rumsfeld's comment that U.S. forces "don't do nation-building" as "nonsensical."

Jackson's comments, the most outspoken criticism of U.S. policy in Iraq by a senior British officer, highlight the deep-seated tension between the British command and the Pentagon during the Iraq war, the newspaper said.

His assessment comes as U.S. and British officials and experts trade increasingly bitter accusations over the Iraq war, eroding the unity between two countries that were staunch allies in the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The newspaper said Jackson was particularly critical of President Bush's decision to hand control of the post-invasion administration of Iraq to the Department of Defense.

"All the planning carried out by the State Department went to waste," he said.

Jackson said the U.S. decision to disband the Iraqi army after Hussein's overthrow was "very shortsighted. . . . We should have kept the Iraqi security services in being and put them under the command of the coalition."

He said he and other senior officers had doubts about the dossier on alleged Iraqi weapons presented by the British government led by Tony Blair to justify the invasion.

"We all knew that it was impossible for Iraq to threaten the UK mainland," he said.

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