The American Middle East peace envoy, General Anthony Zinni, has warned that a war with Iraq could make the situation between Israel and the Palestinians much worse.
Speaking in Washington, he advised caution before attacking Iraq.
General Zinni also said he did not believe there should be any more Middle East peace missions similar to those he undertook earlier this year.
His views are particularly interesting because he is known to be close to
the Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
Ironically, if General Zinni were still in his old job in charge of
the US military's Central Command, he would have been the general running any
war with Iraq.
The general said there were some people who believed a war with Iraq might help the Middle East peace process.
"I don't know what planet they're on," he commented.
"Such a war would make the situation between Israel and the Palestinians much worse."
He warned that Saddam Hussein would do his best to draw Israel into the war and he warned also of the danger of destabilising America's allies in the region.
Nevertheless, General Zinni said he would support a war if there was what he described as a clear and present danger and if President George W Bush won the support of the US Congress and of the international community.
These were particularly outspoken comments from someone who is still officially working for the US Government.
However, the general also seemed to be talking himself out of a job.
He said he believed there should not be any more Middle East peace missions similar to those he undertook earlier this year.
He argued for a much larger-scale and more concerted effort to bring the two sides together.
Copyright 2002 BBC