Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:32 pm on 22nd July 2008.

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Photo of Lord Bramall Lord Bramall Crossbench 1:32 pm, 22nd July 2008

My Lords, my remarks were just an introduction, if I may say so.

As a result, British forces were withdrawn from Basra city and it was stated at the time that a larger and quicker withdrawal of forces would be possible than now appears to be the case. Therefore, my first question for the noble Baroness is: what has really caused the change of heart, other than perhaps an apparent desire to tie in with the US surge philosophy and the temporary political advantages that may accrue for the present Administration? It must be remembered that we have very good coalition reasons to want to be out of Iraq. As the Chief of the Defence Staff said recently, we are not geared to or capable of engaging in conflict on two fronts, particularly in the present funding climate. To come out would enable us to do better and more securely the things that we need to do and which can be so helpful to all our allies in Afghanistan, which is now the most important focal point.

Finally, does the noble Baroness not think that we may be sacrificing military effectiveness and military needs for short-term political considerations, which may change anyway next November?