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Powell says US did not have enough troops for peace

February 27, 2005

LONDON, Feb 26: The US-led invasion of Iraq was fought "brilliantly" but there were not enough soldiers for the peace, United States former secretary of state Colin Powell admitted on Saturday.

There were "enough troops for war but not for peace, for establishing order," Mr Powell said in an interview with the London newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, his first since leaving office.

"My own preference would have been for more forces after the conflict," Mr Powell told Telegraph's ex-editor, Charles Moore.

Mr Powell expressed concern over strains that showed between the US and its European allies over the Iraq invasion.

"The tensions between America and Europe have been fantastic - it's a source of dismay to me."

But he was unapologetic about the invasion itself: "In less than two years we have got rid of a dictator, introduced a basic law, leading to an election that people really came out for - except for the Sunnis who did not come out as we'd hoped."

Washington's policies had sometimes grated, "and sometimes we have used language which was not selected with a clear understanding of how it would fall on European ears," Mr Powell acknowledged. "We've got a lot more work to do with European public opinion."

Mr Powell said he had been disappointed by the French attitude in 2003: "Not a good time in our relationship. But since then I've been able to work with them to get troops ...to go to Haiti."

Mr Powell said he had been upfront with President Bush over the dangers of the Iraq invasion.

In Aug 2002 he had warned the chief executive "the difficult bit will come afterwards - the military piece will be easy.

"This place (Iraq) will crack like a crystal goblet, and it will be a problem to pick the bits," he had told the president.

"It was on this basis that he decided to let me see if we can find a UN solution to this."

Asked about the wrong intelligence fed to him about supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Mr Powell responded: "...there was a little too much inferential judgment. Too much resting on assumptions and worst-case scenarios.

"With intelligence, sometimes you are talking to people who are perhaps selling you lies."

Mr Powell said he was "very sore" about the presentation he had made to the UN Security Council which turned out to have been based on false intelligence. "I will be forever be known as the one who made the case."-AFP