A second retired British general slammed the United States over its Iraq policy, saying in a newspaper interview published Sunday that it had been “fatally flawed.”
Maj. Gen. Tim Cross, the most senior British officer involved in the postwar planning, said he had raised serious concerns about the possibility of Iraq falling into chaos but said former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the warnings.
“Right from the very beginning we were all very concerned about the lack of detail that had gone into the postwar plan and there is no doubt that Rumsfeld was at the heart of that process,” Cross said in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.
The comments come a day after the release of critical comments made by the general who led the British army during the Iraq invasion.
Retired Gen. Sir Mike Jackson also singled out Rumsfeld for criticism, saying his approach to the invasion was “intellectually bankrupt,” according to quotes excerpted from his autobiography and published by The Daily Telegraph Saturday.
Rumsfeld stepped down as defense secretary in November, one day after midterm elections in which opposition to the war in Iraq contributed to heavy Republican losses.
In December, President Bush praised Rumsfeld for his service and made no mention of the often-harsh criticism of Rumsfeld.
“Every decision Don Rumsfeld made over the past six years, he always put the troops first, and the troops knew it,” Bush said.
The comments from the two retired British generals come in the wake of criticism of British military performance in Basra made by U.S. officials and Washington’s fears that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is poised to sanction a British troop withdrawal.
Former U.S. Army Gen. Jack Keane, who was vice chief of staff at the time the Iraq war was launched in 2003, said in an interview last week that London had never deployed enough troops to properly stabilize the region around the southern city and allowed a bad security situation to deteriorate further.
But Cross said the current problems were predicted in 2003.
“Right from the very beginning we were all very concerned about the lack of detail that had gone into the postwar plan and there is no doubt that Rumsfeld was at the heart of that process,” he said.
Gen. Cross, 59, who was deputy head of the coalition’s Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in 2003, said he had raised concerns about the number of troops on the ground in Iraq but was ignored.
“There is no doubt that with hindsight the U.S. postwar plan was fatally flawed and many of us sensed that at the time,” Cross said.