'People totally misidentified the nature of Iraq', says former director general of MOD

'People totally misidentified the nature of Iraq', says former director general of MOD

Chris Parry said 'politicians don't do history' – meaning they made basic mistakes in Iraq

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Chris Parry, the director general of the MOD who helped to plan the Iraq War, has revealed what he thought went wrong with thr process. He was speaking prior to the publication of the Chilcot report this morning.

"I think it's probably fair to say that the plan we originally thought about didn't survive first contact with the British army and didn't survive first contact with the United States either," he told Julia Hartley-Brewer.

"So any chance we had of influencing the way the strategy was developed was severely limited right form the word go.

"The fundamental issue at stake was people totally misidentified the nature of Iraq, it wasn't a functioning state. Saddam was running the place – he'd turned it into a Mafia state."

He explains what he now believes should have been done.

"We should have worked through the power brokers who existed in Iraq, shouldn’t have tried to change everything at once, shouldn’t have tried to introduce democracy in a country that doesn't even know what democracy is.

"The real problem we have is politicians [who] don't do history, they don't understand it, they don't study it, they don't apply it, they use selective quotations to justify [action].

"The idea of a nation state is somewhat old-fashioned now, so we should have recognised that.

"As a historian I'd say it's too soon to tell [if it was right or not],” he revealed. "It may well be the bloody catalyst that's modernised the whole of the Middle East region but I do think the Middle East and North Africa will be unstable for many years to come.

"[The report is] more about minimalising the inconvenienced than securing the truth. He's got very limited terms of reference."