Friday, October 13, 2006

Context is everything

The comments of General Sir Richard Dannatt calling for the early withdrawal of British Forces from Iraq are probably right. I too tend to think that British troops would be better used in Afghanistan and, as I have written recently, I believe that the British mission in Iraq needs to be given an exit timetable as soon as practical.

However it is one thing for me, as a private citizen, to call for these courses of action. It is quite another for the most senior General in the British Army to enter the political arena.

The General does not have that liberty to speak out. He should retract his remarks and not repeat them.

Generals work for politicians and if they disagree with them they should do so privately.

Sir Richard may well be right, but in our democratic system, Generals should be seen and not heard.

UPDATE: Tony Blair has said that he agrees with every word the General said.

Hmm... Two-nil to the General - who I suppose will be in office after the PM has left it. Not the first time this has happened, trouble is it usually happens in Turkey.


Etzel Pangloss said...

I'm sure you will not agree, but maybe our democracy could do with a slight constitutional crisis.

Cicero said...

:-) That depends on the crisis. I think it certainly needs a big shake up- arguably we are in a slight constitutional crisis already.

Anonymous said...

The UK military leadership needs a shake-up anyway, and this breach of civil-military relations should be an opportunity for changes. Ranging from General Jackson's failure to follow orders in Kosovo to now, a situation where a military commander is essentially dictating major policy changes, the UK military leadership has shown nothing that commands their troops' loyalty -- especially in their failures to secure their own troops' equipment and well-being.

David said...

I have to agree actually, the armed forces becoming involved in politics is a bad idea.