Army chief condemns War on Terror

General Sir Mike Jackson, BBC photoA headline we will not see in the United States says General Sir Mike Jackson condemns the ‘war on terror’.

He’s the recently retired head of the British Army.
[profile at BBC, at wiki, at UK Army]

He’s in the news around the world, with some controversy.

So ‘the global war on terrorism’ equates to a war on means, which makes little or no sense. Our objective – our end – must be the physical and intellectual defeat of Islamic fundamentalism as a threat to us.

To this end, the means certainly include the use of armed force, but also, very importantly, engagement in the battle of ideas. It is here that the US approach is inadequate: it focuses far too much on the single military means. Nation-building and diplomacy are fundamental to demonstrate the advantages of political and economic progress.

He’s a soldier revealing success and error in global military policy.

Washington’s planners seemed not to have learned from British experiences in Kosovo and Bosnia. The waste of our accumulated knowledge of how to manage post-conflict situations is a tragedy.

We had a very good man inside the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq after the collapse of Saddam’s regime until an elected Iraqi government was ready to take over: Major General Tim Cross, who had run our logistics in Kosovo. Tim’s reports were alarming: “This is a madhouse,” he was saying, “the situation is terrible.” Tim had been with the Pentagon planners before the war and he had been saying then that they hadn’t got their act together.

There’s so much criticism excerpted from his new autobiography.

The American administration that had come to power in 2000 under President George W Bush took a very different approach to foreign policy from its predecessors. Bush surrounded himself with neoconservative thinkers, who viewed the world in more aggressively ideological terms. Among these was his powerful Vice-President, Dick Cheney.

The ”neocons” took the view that victory in the Cold War had demonstrated the superiority of American-style democracy, and that with American encouragement this model could spread across the world.

Unlike the Clinton administration, they were ready to intervene in other countries when they believed that US interests were at stake. The Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and especially his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, pursued radical neoconservative policies aimed at reshaping the world in the American image.

He’s blaming Donald Rumsfeld for the political and military errors that led to a sectarian bloodbath in Iraq.

There was great tension between Rumsfeld and his senior generals, particularly the army Chief of Staff, Eric Shinseki, who had been fighting a rearguard action against Rumsfeld’s desire to slim down the army. Rumsfeld felt that the army was too cautious, too resistant to change and too unwilling to take risks. I believe events have shown him to be wrong.

In my view, Rumsfeld is one of those most responsible for the current situation in Iraq. He rejected the advice given by his generals, while at the same time discarding the detailed post-conflict plans prepared by the State Department.

[The Telegraph story]