IT is not immediately clear why General Sir Michael Rose, Adjutant General of the British Army and Commander of UN forces in Bosnia in the mid1990s, should have suddenly launched a campaign calling for the impeachment of Tony Blair over his decision to take Britain to war against Iraq. Has the general got a book coming out, is he involved in a TV programme, or has he simply decided on principle that in retirement he can keep quiet no longer? General Rose's case against the prime minister is the familiar one that Mr Blair committed British troops to action in Iraq on false grounds and insufficiently tested intelligence. But the most startling part of his accusation is his claim that, if he had still been a serving officer at the time of the Iraq invasion, he would have resigned rather than carry out the political order to go into battle. Such a statement raises the stakes considerably and reminds us indirectly of the current difficulties of the Spanish General Jose Mena Aguado who asserted that it would be the Army's duty to take action under the Constitution if Cataluna were granted greater autonomy. In Britain the Chief of the General Staff put some hard questions to Mr Blair about the legality of war against Iraq before authorising the commitment of the armed services to the action and was obviously satisfied with the answers. That is as it should be. Elected politicians must take the final responsibility for military action; the alternative of military intervention is simply not acceptable in a democracy. General Rose has always been something of a maverick and he is continuing to act true to form. However his call for Mr Blair's impeachment does show how feeble Parliament has been over this issue. Everyone knows that the prime minister misled the House of Commons on the reasons for the war yet to this day there has been no effective pressure to pin him down on the point. As a matter of interest, where, exactly, David Cameron stand on Iraq? It would be interesting to hear from him on the subject.
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