Americans sidelined British effort in Iraq

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by fantassin, Dec 16, 2009.

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  1. Americans sidelined British effort in Iraq, says Sir Jeremy Greenstock

    British officials sent to run the newly liberated Iraq in 2003 found themselves sidelined by American authorities, under-resourced and answering to impossible requests from Downing Street as the country descended into chaos, the most senior British diplomat in the Iraqi interim authority told the Iraq inquiry yesterday.

    Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was the most senior British diplomat in Iraq in the first six months after the invasion, when he served as the deputy head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, said that despite committing an entire British Army division to the Iraq war, Britain had negligible influence on the course of events after the fighting ended.

    “In British terms it was an enormous expedition,” he told the inquiry. “It was a well-executed job that the British did in the south east [around Basra] but in doing that job in the south east we added very little to what the coalition as a whole was doing in the rest of Iraq.”
    British officials discovered that their views carried little weight.

    More at:

    Concerning the last sentence, could it be the beginning of the end of the "special relationship" ?
  2. Why does that surprise anyone, the good ol USofA couldn't give a flying monkey's chuff about a pathetic little island off the coast of Europe especially when it's leaders have their heads so far up the Presidents backside all he can hear is a gentle mumble and feel a tickling in his loins.
  3. No
  4. What he said

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    No, because, in the context of 2003, the USMC valued Brits with Armour more than Frogs with accordions.

    What seems to be a developing theme is that, whilst the Americans seemed to value what we could provide militarily, at least early on, they had little time for our civil servants/diplomats/politicians etc at any point (Apart from Ashie's hero 'Yo Blair' that is). Not an entirely unreasonable attitude given the capacity for over-bearing arrogance of some of our suits - "We did Northern Ireland/wrote the book on hearts and minds you know...".

    I don't think the special relationship's dead - it's just not a relationship of equals and it works best when the UK remembers that ("You'll be surprised what the Americans learn from you if you don't try to teach them").

    (Edited once)

  6. Doubtful...many British officers have said the very same thing, and demonstrated the very same attitudes towards the UK government. You should recall just a few short years ago the huge uproar within the Army how the Comprehensive Approach was NOT working, as well, the pathetic contribution of DfID.

    So, perhaps a lot of smoke and no flame. The "Special Relationship" is strong, and will remain for a long time. It clearly is a closer, stronger relationship that any other we have.
  7. I'm afraid the people most guilty of that weren't wearing suits :oops:

  8. Doubt it, always best to keep the biggest bloke in the playground on side… not an option for you Frenchies tho.

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    Agreed, but they got some slack because they could do their day job and, whatever else, generally put themselves in harm's way and were seen to do so. Certainly, a bit more humility all round would have been helpful.

    (Edited once)
  10. You're right parapauk. In fact the suits were in dreadfully short supply. Hence the request for soldiers to adopt civvy dress, so as to not make it "appear too military". I jest you not.

    More widely, see the "Britain was ignored" soundbites being levelled at every opportunity as not the crux of the issue. What is becoming clear, are the number of senior representatives of the UK Government, who when tasked with the most critical duty of their life, under-performed in the communications stakes - not only with the US, but more worryingly back to the UK Government.

    More the issue from my perspective was the blinding ignorance of the post war-fighting stage (the arrse end of TELIC), when it became clear that UK Government planning on post war reconstruction amounted to little more then relying on the international aid community to storm across from Kuwait and take care of things.

    This (as was not only obvious from Whitehall), but also evident on the ground, was the most flawed part of HMG's involvement. HMG has effectively played the "Iraq will pay for its own re-construction" card, to the absolute detriment of Iraqis who had the misfortune to live in Southern Iraq.

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    I'm not limiting my comments to the suits who failed in Iraq - I'm talking about a more general failure across the UK Government.
  12. Completely agree FF.
  13. The special relationship is a fantasy that exists only in the minds of British politicians.
    US presidents have to be reminded to include the magic words when they meet the Brits.
    In practice, it means zilch.
    Similar fantasy with possessing nuclear weapons, which gain us a seat at the UN Security Council. Sorry chums, we can't afford it!
  14. In that vein, was it ever a relationship of equals? We always thought we were superior. Laughed at the US Army in particular. Then they won, we lost, and I'm not sure the UK or even just HMAF is institutionally willing to accept that even today. Americans definitely got the message loud clear; but they didn't moan about the special relationship. They had a war or two to win. So they got on with it without bearing a grudge and simply started to ignore the UK.

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    It was possibly a relationship of equals very briefly in 1942, but that had gone by August 1944 and it's been Uncle Sam ever since.

    The way forward is to shut up, turn in the performance and then use that performance sparingly to guide and advise when it's critical, which is how Maggie (arguably the only PM other than Churchill to make the Special Relationship work) used to operate.

    In Iraq, there were some particularly rhino-hided individuals on our side who seemed unable to pause and consider how the Americans might take lectures in COIN Ops from members of an army that had spent the war, and the run-up to the war, blagging MRE's and heaven knows what else, in order to participate at all.

    It was utterly, utterly shameful and I don't think the British soldier has been let down so badly by his own Government and logistical support since the Crimea. In terms of logistical fitness to fight, the Americans and ourselves were like the Italians and the Afrika Korps in the Western Desert - and we weren't the Germans.

    No wonder the Americans didn't take us seriously afterwards.

    (Edited once)