Desert Rat speaks out against war

(Panoroma, BBC One, 8 December)

The man who led the Allied armoured forces into Iraq during the last Gulf War has criticised those planning renewed military action against Saddam Hussein.

Major General Patrick Cordingley believes a second Gulf War would be pointless as it would only lead to tens of thousands of Iraqis being needlessly killed.

As commander of the Desert Rats (the 7th Armoured Brigade) during the 1991 conflict, he led the Allied armoured forces into Iraq.

But despite such heavy involvement last time around, Maj Gen Cordingley has told BBC One's Panorama programme that he has strong reservations about a fresh conflict.

In the Gulf War, the British and Americans lost less than three hundred men, while the Iraqis lost tens of thousands.

Maj Gen Cordingley now fears that the Iraqi land forces - which have been weakened by sanctions - could suffer even heavier losses if the armed forces are sent in again.

He said: "I think it is the fact that fire-power today is so massive, so overwhelming, so catastrophic when it's used that inevitably the enemy will take a large number of casualties."

The retired officer also feels that some British soldiers will not feel the cause is just - especially if President Bush decides to attack without the explicit backing of the United Nations.

He added: "It is a great shame if you get a situation where they're being used in a way that the British public are not easy with.

Also opposed to another conflict in the Gulf is Robert Baer, a former CIA agent who was wrongly accused by the FBI of plotting to murder Saddam.

In fact, he had been involved in a plot by Kurds and Iraqi dissidents to unseat the Iraqi dictator - encouraging an uprising which was brutally crushed by the Iraqi leader.

But he is against another war in Iraq, believing it will create massive instability in the region.

"What we're inviting is World War Three. In the Middle East. It's too late to invade Iraq a second time," he said.

Mr Baer claims that his fears are echoed by his former paymasters in the intelligence business

He added: "I talk to people in the CIA. They're worried about the stability of the region."

"A land war or a massive air war, against an Arab country is going to cause several governments in the Middle East to fall. Among them Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and possibly Egypt.

"I think people in Washington are so hurt, so damaged by the attacks on September 11th, that they want to take revenge. And Saddam happens to be the vehicle."

Panorama: the Case Against War, will be shown on BBC One on Sunday 8 December at 2240 GMT.

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