By Robin Gedye
Colin Powell, the former US secretary of state, has for the first time publicly criticised troops levels in Iraq and spoken of the rifts between himself and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, that undermined his role as architect of American foreign policy.
Mr Powell, in his first interview since resigning last November, also told The Telegraph of his "dismay" at the deterioration in relations between America and Europe and of his "disappointment" with France.
While holding back from blaming Mr Rumsfeld by name for the problems that eventually persuaded him to resign, Mr Powell showed that much of the innuendo and leaks surrounding his volatile relationship with the defence secretary had been well-founded.
Admitting that Mr Rumsfeld's controversial plan to fight the war with limited troop numbers had been an outstanding success, Mr Powell said the "nation building" that followed had been deeply flawed.
There had been "enough troops for war but not for peace, for establishing order. My own preference would have been for more forces after the conflict."
Mr Powell said he had warned President George W Bush over dinner in August 2002 that the problem with Iraq was not going to be the invasion but what followed.
He told him: "This place will crack like a goblet and it will be a problem to pick up the bits. It was on this basis that he decided to let me see if we could find a United Nations solution to this."
Mr Powell told Charles Moore, the former editor of The Telegraph who conducted the interview outside Washington, that he regretted the fall-out with Europe over the Iraq war.
He also found Mr Rumsfeld's reference to "New Europe" and "Old Europe" unfortunate.
"I never used the phrase," he said. "It just wasn't a useful construct. I don't think the president ever used it.
"We've got a lot more work to do with European public opinion."
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.
Keep talk Colin