Christians ask Tony Blair to listen to new army chief on Iraq

By staff writers
October 13, 2006

Christians ask Tony Blair to listen to new army chief on Iraq

-13/10/06

Advisors to British PM Tony Blair are reported to be ìstunnedî by the comments from new army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt ñ who has said the presence of UK troops in Iraq is contributing to security problems inside and outside the country.

However, Dannattís criticism of the 2003 Iraq war strategy and his call for a withdrawal of troops ìsometime soonî has been welcomed by anti-war groups and Christian peace campaigners, including members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi.

Simon Barrow, co-director of the UK Christian think tank Ekklesia, which works for conflict transformation strategies in place of violence, has welcomed General Sir Richard Dannattís ìsane and balanced remarksî regarding the Iraq debacle.

Added Barrow: ìThe reality is that military people are often much more sanguine about war policies than gung-ho civvies and politicians. Mr Blair should listen to his army chief, just as he should have listened to the churches when they told him that an Iraq war would be catastrophic and that there were credible alternatives to armed adventurism.î

But backers of the invasion and occupation in Iraq are confused and furious by the critical comments from Chief of the General Staff of the Army, coming as they do on top of a unanimous verdict by US intelligence agencies that Western intervention has been a ërecruiting sergeantí for global terrorism, and academic research which shows that some 650,000 people may have died in the conflict.

General Sir Richard Dannatt is trying to downplay the row, stressing that his withdrawal call is in line with the UK governmentís intention to remove troops when they have done all they can do to stabilize the situation.

However he is firm in his opinion that the US-led troop presence in Iraq has in some cases worsened the situation, locally as well as globally.

The Army Chief told the BBC yesterday that he intends to ìspeak up for what is right for the Armyî. A convinced Christian, he has been an officer of the Soldierís and Airmenís Scripture Readers Association, and Vice President of The Officersí Christian Union.

Sir Richardís predecessor, General Sir Mike Jackson, got into hot water during the 2005-6 Christian Peacemaker Teams Iraq hostage crisis. He wrongly accused Briton Norman Kember of being ungrateful to the soldiers who freed him in March 2006, in the end without the use of force.

In an interview with the Daily Mail following a report to UK defence secretary Des Browne, Dannatt also said that the post-war military strategy in Iraq seemed to have been based more on optimism than proper planning.

He added that while it would not be true to pin the blame for ìour problems around the worldî on the war alone, our presence in Iraq exacerbates them.î

The government issued a brief and tersely worded statement last night, emphasizing that British troops in Iraq were there at the invitation of the elected Iraqi authorities, and claiming that their presence was consonant with a UN mandate.

But critics continue to argue that the war and occupation is illegal, immoral, based on faulty intelligence, and has caused more suffering than it ended.

In 2003, US and other world churches argued that the brutal Saddam Hussein dictatorship, which had previously been backed and entrenched by the West, needed to be challenged from within.

They suggested nonviolence-based strategies for change, which President Bush refused to tall about and PM Blair rejected.

There are presently over 7,000 British soldiers in Iraq, based largely in Basra in the south of the country. Since the invasion in 2003, 119 British troops have been killed, most of them in the south.

[Also on Ekklesia: American church leader shocked at Iraq body count 12/10/06; Iraq war death toll may be more than in 25 years of Saddam brutality 12/10/06; Brown gave backing for Iraq invasion at '11th hour' 09/10/06; Violence against Christians grows in Iraq 29/09/06; CSM head says Blair should have heeded churches on Iraq war 25/09/06; Bush's church urges pull-out of US troops from Iraq 24/09/06; Iraqi religious leaders meet to talk peace 29/08/06; Who is really fighting whom in battle-scarred Iraq? 24/08/06; Christian peacemakers stay committed to Iraq 19/06/06; Iraq hostage Tom Fox remembered by UK peacemakers 08/06/06; Norman Kember talks about life beyond his Iraq kidnap ordeal 07/06/06; Christian Peacemaker Teams remain in Iraq with new plan 29/05/06; Iraq peace hostage Loney talks of faith, fear and freedom 29/04/06; Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think tank 17/04/06; Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation 16/04/06; Critics of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq accused of being ill-informed; Army chief spoke without knowledge on alleged Kember ingratitude -28/03/06; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview 15/04/06; Entombed Iraq captive Jim Loney talks of Easter Hope 15/04/06; Kember notes irony of non-violent release by soldiers 15/04/06; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemaker's role in Iraq 15/04/06; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview tomorrow 14/04/06; CPT in Iraq: What now? 04/04/06 - Peggy Gish reflects on the future of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams - detailed background; Contending the logic of violence - Ekklesia's Simon Barrow says that true Christian peacemaking cannot afford naivetÈ]

Christians ask Tony Blair to listen to new army chief on Iraq

-13/10/06

Advisors to British PM Tony Blair are reported to be ìstunnedî by the comments from new army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt ñ who has said the presence of UK troops in Iraq is contributing to security problems inside and outside the country.

However, Dannattís criticism of the 2003 Iraq war strategy and his call for a withdrawal of troops ìsometime soonî has been welcomed by anti-war groups and Christian peace campaigners, including members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi.

Simon Barrow, co-director of the UK Christian think tank Ekklesia, which works for conflict transformation strategies in place of violence, has welcomed General Sir Richard Dannattís ìsane and balanced remarksî regarding the Iraq debacle.

Added Barrow: ìThe reality is that military people are often much more sanguine about war policies than gung-ho civvies and politicians. Mr Blair should listen to his army chief, just as he should have listened to the churches when they told him that an Iraq war would be catastrophic and that there were credible alternatives to armed adventurism.î

But backers of the invasion and occupation in Iraq are confused and furious by the critical comments from Chief of the General Staff of the Army, coming as they do on top of a unanimous verdict by US intelligence agencies that Western intervention has been a ërecruiting sergeantí for global terrorism, and academic research which shows that some 650,000 people may have died in the conflict.

General Sir Richard Dannatt is trying to downplay the row, stressing that his withdrawal call is in line with the UK governmentís intention to remove troops when they have done all they can do to stabilize the situation.

However he is firm in his opinion that the US-led troop presence in Iraq has in some cases worsened the situation, locally as well as globally.

The Army Chief told the BBC yesterday that he intends to ìspeak up for what is right for the Armyî. A convinced Christian, he has been an officer of the Soldierís and Airmenís Scripture Readers Association, and Vice President of The Officersí Christian Union.

Sir Richardís predecessor, General Sir Mike Jackson, got into hot water during the 2005-6 Christian Peacemaker Teams Iraq hostage crisis. He wrongly accused Briton Norman Kember of being ungrateful to the soldiers who freed him in March 2006, in the end without the use of force.

In an interview with the Daily Mail following a report to UK defence secretary Des Browne, Dannatt also said that the post-war military strategy in Iraq seemed to have been based more on optimism than proper planning.

He added that while it would not be true to pin the blame for ìour problems around the worldî on the war alone, our presence in Iraq exacerbates them.î

The government issued a brief and tersely worded statement last night, emphasizing that British troops in Iraq were there at the invitation of the elected Iraqi authorities, and claiming that their presence was consonant with a UN mandate.

But critics continue to argue that the war and occupation is illegal, immoral, based on faulty intelligence, and has caused more suffering than it ended.

In 2003, US and other world churches argued that the brutal Saddam Hussein dictatorship, which had previously been backed and entrenched by the West, needed to be challenged from within.

They suggested nonviolence-based strategies for change, which President Bush refused to tall about and PM Blair rejected.

There are presently over 7,000 British soldiers in Iraq, based largely in Basra in the south of the country. Since the invasion in 2003, 119 British troops have been killed, most of them in the south.

[Also on Ekklesia: American church leader shocked at Iraq body count 12/10/06; Iraq war death toll may be more than in 25 years of Saddam brutality 12/10/06; Brown gave backing for Iraq invasion at '11th hour' 09/10/06; Violence against Christians grows in Iraq 29/09/06; CSM head says Blair should have heeded churches on Iraq war 25/09/06; Bush's church urges pull-out of US troops from Iraq 24/09/06; Iraqi religious leaders meet to talk peace 29/08/06; Who is really fighting whom in battle-scarred Iraq? 24/08/06; Christian peacemakers stay committed to Iraq 19/06/06; Iraq hostage Tom Fox remembered by UK peacemakers 08/06/06; Norman Kember talks about life beyond his Iraq kidnap ordeal 07/06/06; Christian Peacemaker Teams remain in Iraq with new plan 29/05/06; Iraq peace hostage Loney talks of faith, fear and freedom 29/04/06; Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think tank 17/04/06; Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation 16/04/06; Critics of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq accused of being ill-informed; Army chief spoke without knowledge on alleged Kember ingratitude -28/03/06; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview 15/04/06; Entombed Iraq captive Jim Loney talks of Easter Hope 15/04/06; Kember notes irony of non-violent release by soldiers 15/04/06; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemaker's role in Iraq 15/04/06; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview tomorrow 14/04/06; CPT in Iraq: What now? 04/04/06 - Peggy Gish reflects on the future of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams - detailed background; Contending the logic of violence - Ekklesia's Simon Barrow says that true Christian peacemaking cannot afford naivetÈ]

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