From the Daily Mail:
Army chief declares war on Blair: 'We must quit Iraq soon'
By TIM SHIPMAN
Last updated at 23:53pm on 12th October 2006
Call to arms: General Sir Richard Dannatt
The head of the Army is calling for British troops to withdraw from Iraq "soon" or risk catastophic consequences for both Iraq and British society.
In a devastating broadside at Tony Blair's foreign policy, General Sir Richard Dannatt stated explicitly that the continuing presence of British troops "exacerbates the security problems" in Iraq.
See also:Sir Richard Dannatt: A very honest General
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Sir Richard also warns that a "moral and spiritual vacuum" has opened up in British society, which is allowing Muslim extremists to undermine "our accepted way of life."
The Chief of the General Staff believes that Christian values are under threat in Britain and that continuing to fight in Iraq will only make the situation worse.
His views will send shockwaves through Government.
They are a total repudiation of the Prime Minister, who has repeatedly insisted that British presence in Iraq is morally right and has had no effect on our domestic security.
Sir Richard, who took up his post earlier this year, warned that "our presence in Iraq exacerbates" the "difficulties we are facing around the world."
He lambasts Tony Blair's desire to forge a "liberal democracy" in Iraq as a "naive" failure and he warns that "whatever consent we may have had in the first place" from the Iraqi people "has largely turned to intolerance."
In one of the most outspoken interviews ever given by a serving soldier, Sir Richard also reveals:
* He was "outraged" by reports of injured soldiers recouperating in hospital alongside civilians being confronted by anti-war campaigners who told them to remove their uniforms.
* He gave Defence Secretary Des Browne a dressing down about the "unaccepatble" treatment of injured soldiers, warning him that the government was in danger of breaking the "covenant" between a nation and its Army and should not "let the Army down."
* He understands why Prince William and Prince Harry want to serve on the frontline but has not yet decided whether they will be allowed to fight in Afghanistan.
But it is Sir Richard's views of the situation in Iraq that will enrage Downing Street.
He says clearly we shoud "get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems."
"We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear."
As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren’t invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time.
"The military campaign we fought in 2003 effectively kicked the door in. Whatever consent we may have had in the first place, may have turned to tolerance and has largely turned to intolerance."
"That is a fact. I don’t say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them."
In comments that set him at loggerheads with Mr Blair, Gen Dannatt warns that the good intentions of 2003 have long since evaporated - pitching British troops into a lethal battle that few at home can understand.
"I think history will show that the planning for what happened after the initial successful war fighting phase was poor, probably based more on optimism than sound planning," he said.
"The original intention was that we put in place a liberal democracy that was an exemplar for the region, was pro West and might have a beneficial effect on the balance within the Middle East."
"That was the hope, whether that was a sensible or naïve hope history will judge. I don’t think we are going to do that. I think we should aim for a lower ambition."
The Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted that British troops must stay until the Iraqi security forces are able to take charge - a forlorn hope as the country has slipped to the brink of civil war.
Sir Richard warned that the consequences will be felt at home, where failure to support Christian values is allowing a predatory Islamist vision to take hold.
He said: "When I see the Islamist threat in this country I hope it doesn’t make undue progress because there is a moral and spiritual vacuum in this country."
"Our society has always been embedded in Christian values; once you have pulled the anchor up there is a danger that our society moves with the prevailing wind."
"There is an element of the moral compass spinning. I think it is up to society to realise that is the situation we are in."
"We can’t wish the Islamist challenge to our society away and I believe that the army both in Iraq and Afghanistan and probably wherever we go next, is fighting the foreign dimension of the challenge to our accepted way of life."
"We need to face up to the Islamist threat, to those who act in the name of Islam and in a perverted way try to impose Islam by force on societies that do not wish it."
"It is said that we live in a post Christian society. I think that is a great shame. The broader Judaic-Christian tradition has underpinned British society. It underpins the British army."
General Dannatt says he has "more optimism" that "we can get it right in Afghanistan."
But he condemned the treatment of injured British soldiers, who have been forced to share wards with civilians in Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham.
Sir Richard said he confronted Mr Browne about the "covenant" between a nation and its armed forces.
"I said to the Secretary of State the army wont let the nation down but I don’t want the nation to let the army down."
"It is not acceptable for our casualties to be in mixed wards with civilians. I was outraged at the story of someone saying ‘take your uniform off’. Our people need the privacy of recovering in a military environment - a soldier manning a machine gun in Basra loses consciousness when he is hit by a missile and next recovers consciousness in a hospital in the UK."
"He wants to wake up to familiar sights and sounds, he wants to see people in uniform. He doesn’t want to be in a civilian environment."
He added: "I am going to stand up for what is right for the army. Honesty is what it is about.
The truth will out. We have got to speak the truth."
Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: "When I was in Iraq, soldiers told me the same thing."
"They said the reaction had gone from welcome, to consent to mere tolerance and they said that this meant we didn't have an indefinite licence to be there."
"To have one of our senior military figures speaking out on behalf of those under his commenad is a refreshing change."
"General Dannatt is completely right to say that it's a scandal ro have injured servicemen on mixed wards with civilians."
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman Michael Moore said: "This is the frankest assessment we have had about Iraq. It illustrates that the government has no clear strategy."
The party's defence spokesman Nick Harvey added: "This drives a coach and horses through the government's foreign policy."