U.K. General Says Quitting Iraq a 'Strategic' Problem Lt. Gen. Graeme Lamb, the U.K.'s top army officer in Iraq, cites a "huge strategic problem" if Western powers leave. Lamb, whose yearlong tour of duty is coming to an end, spoke with Steve Inskeep.
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U.K. General Says Quitting Iraq a 'Strategic' Problem

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U.K. General Says Quitting Iraq a 'Strategic' Problem

U.K. General Says Quitting Iraq a 'Strategic' Problem

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

I wonder if you can formulate a positive statement for us, if there is one. We must stay in the current strategy in order to accomplish what, precisely?

GRAEME LAMB: But actually al-Qaida is finding itself more stressed, in more difficult circumstances. I see the Iraqi people taking ownership. They are in and taking ownership of the fight. That is the government of Iraq. That is its security forces and its people. So I see progress. I see all the indications, which tell me this is a worthy endeavor and we are making a difference here for the better.

INSKEEP: Are you closer to peace than you were three or four months ago in Iraq?

LAMB: I think we are closer towards stability. That will then bring about opportunity. With those opportunities, this nation will move forward and enjoy a peaceful existence the likes of which it has not seen for some considerable period of time.

INSKEEP: Is there any way for you to measure whether any progress that you see is permanent or at least enduring? That a neighborhood you've secured will be secured when the American troops leave? Or that Sunni groups that are fighting with you now will be fighting with you next month? Or the Shiite militias that are quiet now will stay quiet next year?

LAMB: And, you know, down the street came about a dozen young school children going to take their exams. They brave, in effect, what is difficult and dangerous circumstances in order to place themselves in a position where they have a future and an opportunity. And that is worth fighting for.

INSKEEP: When do you leave Iraq?

LAMB: When do I leave? My clock is now running. I have about just a few more days to go.

INSKEEP: Coming back?

LAMB: I intend to come back. As I said to the good Dr. Rubaie today, who I was having a chat to earlier on...

INSKEEP: The national security adviser.

LAMB: ...that to come back as a guest and eat some (unintelligible) down on the Tigris sometime in the future. Not too distant, I hope.

INSKEEP: Could you imagine being a tourist outside the Green Zone walking around?

LAMB: Sure.

INSKEEP: In the not too distant future?

LAMB: Yes, but of course my not too distant future. Probably, you know, we're talking about maybe three, five, I don't know. I don't have a clear (unintelligible) the answers, but I can see the opportunity is here for me to be enjoying a good meal on the banks of the Tigris in the not too distant future.

INSKEEP: Well, General Lamb, thanks very much for speaking with us.

LAMB: A pleasure.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: That's British Lieutenant General Graeme Lamb. He is finishing one year serving in Iraq in a senior position. You heard him on MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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