Ex-Nato head: Iraq could have been planned better

Former PM and Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen conceded that not enough thought was given to who would fill the void after Saddam Hussein was toppled in Iraq.

Ex-Nato head: Iraq could have been planned better
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said "you can't bomb your way to democracy". Photo: Linda Kastrup/Scanpix
Former Nato head Anders Fogh Rasmussen admitted on Wednesday that Denmark’s participation in the Iraq War could have been better thought out. 
“Of course when you look back on it you can say that there were things we could have prepared better. For example: How the new regime will be once the old is gone,” Rasmussen said in an interview with DR journalist Clement Kjersgaard on the programme ‘Vi ses hos Clement’.
“When I look back at the Iraq War in 2003, I think that the thing we should learn is that when you set military operations in place you should carefully think about what the result will be when the old regime falls: What will come in its place?” he added. 
Rasmussen, who was the Danish prime minister when the country entered the Iraq War, stood by the decision to go to war but said that Western forces were “too impatient” in their hopes to bring democracy to Iraq. 
“I think everyone has acknowledged that democracy is certainly not something you can bomb your way to. Nor is it something you can just come and introduce,” Rasmussen said. 
“While we pursue the goal of freedom and democracy, we must also have patience. It takes time. Democracy is more than an election. Democracy is also when a population instils a basic democratic culture,” he added. 
Iraq is currently struggling with an insurgence by the terrorist organisation Isis, which has claimed control of large parts of the country. 
Denmark is among the international coalition carrying out military strikes against Isis in Iraq
Rasmussen ended his tenure as Nato’s secretary general last month and now heads up an international consultancy, Rasmussen Global. 
A clip from the interview can be seen below, courtesy of DR:

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Danish soldiers leave Iraq amid Middle East tensions

100 Danish soldiers arrived in Kuwait on Thursday after Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced that they were to temporarily relocate from the al-Asad base in Iraq.

Danish soldiers leave Iraq amid Middle East tensions
A file photo showing Danish Minister of Defence Trine Bramsen meeting military personnel. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The al-Asad base was one of two military bases hit by Iranian missile strikes earlier this week. The strikes were carried out by Iran in retaliation for the killing of its major general Qassem Soleimani by the United States last week in Baghdad.

Denmark’s defence minister Trine Bramsen wrote on social media that the soldiers had landed in Kuwait. That was confirmed by the Danish armed forces (Forsvaret) on its website.

The 100 soldiers were transported to Kuwait by a Danish Hercules transport aircraft.

“Our soldiers have landed in Kuwait. Their safety is the first priority. I hope they can continue the fight against Isil [terror group Islamic State (Isis), ed.] soon,” Bramsen tweeted.

The announcement from the Danish government came after Iran attacked two military bases in Iraq on Wednesday night, including the al-Asad base, where 133 Danish soldiers are stationed. Danish personnel at the base are involved in training Iraqi forces.

The Danish government has taken the view that, under current circumstances, its personnel cannot continue the work in Iraq.

“I am pleased that the relocation has taken place quickly and on schedule. And I have great respect for the soldiers still at the base, where they continue to carry out important duties,” Bramsen said via the Danish armed forces’ website.

In addition to the 133 soldiers at the al-Asad base, Denmark also has eight staff officers at Nato's Mission Iraq in Baghdad. The eight personnel have also been temporarily moved to Kuwait.

READ ALSO: Denmark parliament to discuss presence of soldiers in Iraq