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Wemustquit_1General Sir Richard Dannatt’s interview with the Daily Mail’s Sarah Sands has been greeted with excitement by the anti-war press and it certainly offers ammunition to the critics of the Iraq operation.  Sir Richard worries that British troops might be exacerbating the security situation (but only in certain parts of Iraq), he complains about the treatment of injured soldiers and reflects on inadequate post-invasion planning.  He also casts doubt on the central Bush doctrine that democracy can be successfully planted in inhospitable terrain.

At the root of Sir Richard’s interview appears to be the simple truth that Britain’s armed forces are being asked to do too much with too little.  There are certainly criticisms of the Iraq operation in Sir Richard’s remarks but his main concern appears to be the mounting consequences of overstretch.  He is concerned for his troops as every military leader should be.  Overstretch has been a long-standing concern of Liam Fox.

Earlier this week the Tories launched a campaign against NHS cuts.  A campaign to rebuild Britain’s armed forces might be more appropriate given the global security perils.

Editor’s comment: "Most important in all of this is
that Britain does not fall for what David Brooks recently described as
‘The Grand Delusion’
.  Here are some extracts from Brooks’
New York Times article:


"The Arab world, though famous for its bazaars, has not defined
national glory economically… Instead, the rising radical groups today
define greatness negatively through acts of anti-Western defiance… To
his eternal credit, after 9/11 George Bush quickly understood that the
terror threat was fundamentally an ideological threat, a product of
deep historical consciousness. To his eternal discredit, he didn’t
commit enough resources to successfully defeat and discredit that
ideology. The chance to deliver the sort of blow that the Six Day War
delivered to an earlier version of Arab nationalism may now be lost…


As a result, as the National Intelligence Estimate makes clear, the
West now faces a diverse and metastasizing set of foes. The report also
makes clear that while the Iraq war has so far enhanced the prestige of
the terrorists, Iraq remains the crucial battleground where they will
either gain glory or face humiliation.  If we lived in a serious
political culture, we’d be discussing what we’ve learned from Iraq and
how to proceed. Instead, all of Washington is involved in a juvenile
game of gotcha…


Voters now confront a Republican Party that understands the breadth of
the threat but has bungled the central campaign, and a Democratic Party
that is quick to criticize but lacks an understanding of the jihadists
and a strategy for confronting them.  Worse, more and more people are
falling for the Grand Delusion — the notion that if we just leave the extremists alone, they will leave us alone…


Perhaps it’s understandable that many Americans would fall for this
Grand Delusion. The Israelis, who have more experience with Islamic
extremism, recently did. They imagined that they could build a security
barrier and unilaterally withdraw from their historical reality. It
took the war in south Lebanon to make them see there is no way to
unilaterally withdraw. There is no way to become a normal society. Even
if they pulled out of Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, they would still
have to confront an existential foe, so long as the forces of political
Islam continued to wage their competition for anti-Semitic glory all
around.""

71 comments for: Overstretch is real problem for British armed forces

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