Another General Declares: “I Was Wrong on Iraq”

October 16th, 2006 - by admin

Ian McPhedran / Sunday Herald Sun – 2006-10-16 22:54:19,21985,20583885-662,00.html

MELBOURNE (October 15, 2006) — Former Defence chief General Peter Cosgrove says the Iraq war has boosted global terrorism. General Cosgrove has apologised to Federal Police boss Mick Keelty for criticising Mr Keelty’s view that the Iraq war inspired terrorist attacks in Spain.

Just days before the launch of his autobiography, My Story, General Cosgrove told the Sunday Herald Sun his comments criticising Mr Keelty were made just days after the event.

“At that time, I just felt that call could not be made,” he said. “Things have moved on. I have got no reason to argue the weighty assessments that I am seeing. If people say there has been an energising of the jihadist movement through the protracted war in Iraq — well, that’s pretty obvious.”

General Cosgrove was accused of playing politics, while senior government figures such as Foreign Minister Alexander Downer even questioned the Federal Police Commissioner’s patriotism.

In his book, General Cosgrove says he was right to make his remarks “at the time”, but describes Mr Keelty as an “outstanding Australian”. He said he was offended by claims he was “wheeled out” by the government to support its position. “People making this claim did not appear to even contemplate the thought that I might have acted reluctantly and independently,” he wrote.

General Cosgrove said he was not a politician and he flatly ruled out a political career, though he said he admired politicians on both sides. “The very nature of politics is that it is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma . . . deal making, compromising,” he said. “The military ethos conditions you totally the other way. To always seek to understand profoundly what your colleagues are doing, what they are saying, to mean what you say and to accept that they mean what they say, every time.”

However, on the second-last page of My Story, his admiration for Prime Minister John Howard resonates.

“If history, and those who write it, are true to the facts, they will join me in the assessment that he has been a truly great leader in the face of adversity and challenge,” he writes.

General Cosgrove urges the Government not to repeat the “mistake” of Vietnam, where he won a Military Cross as a platoon commander. He writes of his sadness that 500 Australians and 50,000 Americans died in Vietnam: “And we left. And we lost. We mustn’t do that with our men and women.”

My Story is published by Harper Collins. It will be launched by Mr Howard on Friday.

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