- Senior British commanders have condemned American military
tactics in Iraq as heavy-handed and disproportionate.
- One senior Army officer told The Telegraph that America's
aggressive methods were causing friction among allied commanders and that
there was a growing sense of "unease and frustration" among the
British high command.
- The officer, who agreed to the interview on the condition
of anonymity, said that part of the problem was that American troops viewed
Iraqis as untermenschen - the Nazi expression for "sub-humans".
- Speaking from his base in southern Iraq, the officer
said: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that
the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive
to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way
we see them. They view them as untermenschen. They are not concerned about
the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are. Their attitude towards
the Iraqis is tragic, it's awful.
- "The US troops view things in very simplistic terms.
It seems hard for them to reconcile subtleties between who supports what
and who doesn't in Iraq. It's easier for their soldiers to group all Iraqis
as the bad guys. As far as they are concerned Iraq is bandit country and
everybody is out to kill them."
- The phrase untermenschen - literally "under-people"
- was brought to prominence by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, published
in 1925. He used the term to describe those he regarded as racially inferior:
Jews, Slaves and gipsies.
- Although no formal complaints have as yet been made to
their American counterparts, the officer said the British Government was
aware of its commanders' "concerns and fears".
- The officer explained that, under British military rules
of war, British troops would never be given clearance to carry out attacks
similar to those being conducted by the US military, in which helicopter
gunships have been used to fire on targets in urban areas.
- British rules of engagement only allow troops to open
fire when attacked, using the minimum force necessary and only at identified
- The American approach was markedly different: "When
US troops are attacked with mortars in Baghdad, they use mortar-locating
radar to find the firing point and then attack the general area with artillery,
even though the area they are attacking may be in the middle of a densely
populated residential area.
- "They may well kill the terrorists in the barrage
but they will also kill and maim innocent civilians. That has been their
response on a number of occasions. It is trite, but American troops do
shoot first and ask questions later. They are very concerned about taking
casualties and have even trained their guns on British troops, which has
led to some confrontations between soldiers.
- "The British response in Iraq has been much softer.
During and after the war the British set about trying to win the confidence
of the local population. There have been problems, it hasn't been easy
but on the whole it was succeeding."
- The officer believed that America had now lost the military
initiative in Iraq, and it could only be regained with carefully planned,
precision attacks against the "terrorists".
- "The US will have to abandon the sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut
approach - it has failed," he said. "They need to stop viewing
every Iraqi, every Arab as the enemy and attempt to win the hearts and
minds of the people.
- "Our objective is to create a stable, democratic
and safe Iraq. That's achievable but not in the short term. It is going
to take up to 10 years."