Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said it would take some years for the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq although the pullout could start in 2006.
"So one way or the other, I think a draw down will begin in 2006, but essentially just to walk away, to say that we're taking all of our troops out as fast as we can would be a tragic mistake. It's going to be years," Powell said in an interview with the BBC World TV Channel on Sunday.
US military actions against Iraq have led to the loss of 2,140 of its troops since the war started in March 2003 on the excuse that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which has proved to be untrue.
Powell accepted that Washington's moral authority was under pressure at the moment and that the US is going through a period right now "where public opinion world-wide is against us."
"I think that's a function of some of the policies we have followed in recent years with respect to Iraq and in not solving the Middle East's problem and perhaps the way in which we have communicated our views to the rest of the world," he said. "We have created an impression that we are unilateralist, we don't care what the rest of the world thinks."
The former secretary of state said he was "deeply disappointed" in what the intelligence community had presented.
"What really upset me more than anything else was that there were people in the intelligence community that had doubts about some of this sourcing, but those doubts never surfaced up to us," he said.