Former UK Army chief, General The Lord Dannatt says any decision to bomb Syria “undoubtedly would have been the wrong thing to do”, ahead of his appearance at a major University of Liverpool lecture series.
The man who led British forces into Afghanistan and Iraq is speaking this evening as part of the University’s What does 2020 look like? Security and Conflict programme that has already featured Quilliam founder, Maajid Nawaz; Colonel Tim Collins and Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.
Speaking ahead of his lecture, General The Lord Dannatt said: “The suggestion we should have gone with the Americans and bombed President Assad’s chemical weapon capability undoubtedly would have been the wrong thing to do.
“I and others argued very strongly in Parliament that it was the wrong thing to do. The right thing to do was to try and get a diplomatic process going. Low and behold, what’s happened? The Americans have pulled back and thought about it, and the Russians had to decide whether they were going to condemn or condone what has happened.
Now retired, General The Lord Dannatt was appointed British Army Chief of the General Staff in 2006, following his central role in planning the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, in 2001 and 2003 respectively. An outspoken figure, he courted controversy with criticism of the Iraq campaign and his view of the detrimental effect he felt it had on operations in Afghanistan.
With British forces now out of Iraq, it is a view he maintains. He said: “Going into Iraq in 2003 took the American’s eyes, it took our eyes and it took the West’s eyes off Afghanistan, which was really important to get right.”
Tonight, he will consider what the year 2020 may hold in terms of security and conflict challenges and specifically current and future global conflicts; their local, national and international impact, and the threat of terrorism.
Saying he was “really looking forward” to the lecture, General the Lord Dannatt added: “I think there’s a big debate to be had in this country about our future ambitions. Are we going to remain the same major player on the world stage that we have been in recent years – a close partner of the USA and leading military nation in Europe – or should we step down to a more minor role.”
General The Lord Dannatt is speaking tonight, Wednesday 30 October 2013 as part of the University of Liverpool’s What does 2020 look like? Security and Conflict lecture series. The event takes place at St George’s Hall, from 6pm.
Tickets are free, but must be booked. Visit http://www.liv.ac.uk/events/2020/ for more information.