Note to self, for future reference on issues of intervention. As I recall, when it came to Iraq, the UK, right from the start, told the US not to get rid of the Iraqi army but they refused to listen. Lord Soley, in his latest blog entry on Iraq
says the question of intervention will be with us for some time, Iraq will not be the last difficult case. Here is an excerpt from his great speech on Iraq (see in full at Lords Hansard text for 22 Feb 2007
It is not impossible that we will have other Kosovo-type problems around the borders of Europe, so we really do need to think about this issue of intervention.
The noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, yesterday made the point that intervention involves a plan before, a plan during the military operation and a plan after it. I do not think that it is true to say that the United States or the British Government did not have a plan for post-conflict - they did. The trouble is - and the noble Lord, Lord Jay, made this point very well - that there was not enough focus on it here, for reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Butler, has given. But, more importantly, two key mistakes were made.
The first mistake, to which a number of noble Lords have referred, was that there was a lack of sufficient numbers of troops on the ground to deal with policing the situation. The other mistake was profoundly important. If you are going to make the assumption that we have lost Iraq, although I do not think we necessarily have, the period in which we lost it was between 16 and 23 May 2003. Why? Because on 16 May Paul Bremer, who was put in charge very suddenly by the United States, took the decision to get rid of the whole civil service in Iraq just because it was B'athist. Before that, of course, you could not get a job in the civil service in Iraq unless you were a member of the Ba'ath party - so there were good and bad people in that civil service structure. Then, on 23 May, the truly disastrous decision was to get rid of the Iraqi army, sending all those people with training and knowledge of weapons and who knew where the weapons were into long-term unemployment without any pay. At that stage, we lost control on the ground.
The rest is history. See? The Americans didn't know best, like they don't know what's best for Sudan. By the way, after Iraq defied countless UN resolutions, I supported intervention in Iraq and still do.