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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Un général sème le trouble

by Peter Avis, special correspondent in London

A British General Stirs up Problems in Iraq

Translated Monday 16 October 2006

Great Britain. The Army Chief of Staff recognizes the terrible impact of the military presence in Iraq.

The British Chief-of-Staff in Iraq has called for the departure of British soldiers from Iraq in the near future, arguing that their presence in Iraq often creates more violence and insecurity in that country, rather than contributing to national security. These comments come from Sir Richard Dannatt, in an interview published yesterday by the right-wing British daily, the Daily Mail.

His frank recognition of the situation is making more trouble for Tony Blair’s Government, whose policy in Iraq is increasingly being challenged.

It seems that the Chief-of-Staff, who has occupied his post for just two months, obtained the agreement of the Minister of Defense, Des Browne, to express this point of view in the interview he had with the newspaper, under the condition that he not challenge directly the British occupation of Iraq.

Sir Richard Dannatt is making waves: “We should get out some time soon … I don’t say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them. … The military campaign that we conducted in 2003 in fact opened the door. If, at the beginning, we benefited from a certain consensus, this became a simple tolerance later and finally intolerance.” (1)

Interviewed later by the BBC, the General said he had no intention of criticizing the policy of the British Government. But his speech, nevertheless, shows the disillusionment of the military caught up in the Iraqi mess – very different from the position of Tony Blair who keeps callng for the "the victory of democracy" in Iraq. Blair phoned the Bush White House to confirm the support of the British forces at a time when President Bush is having his own problems with his own generals.

[Translator’s note]

(1) Sir Richard Dannatt’s words may not be precisely what he said in English: some phrases are re-translation into English from the article published in L’Humanité by Peter Avis.

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