A common Brit complaint is that the US mistakenly disbanded the Iraqi Army in 2003 – if only it had kept it in being, everything would have been fine.
Unfortunately, it turns out the Iraqi Army, like the dead parrot, had ceased to be.
This argument has always struck me as morally flawed- it’s as if we’d kept the SS in operation at the end of WW2 to keep the lid on the Werwolf “insurgents”.
Although not as horrible as the SS, the Iraqi Army had killed about 1 million people over the previous 12 years.
But, it turns out that even if we had swallowed that nasty compromise, it was never an option. Here’s Robert at the excellent Expat Yank (my emphasis):
…He said British and American authorities disagreed over the summary dismissal of Iraq’s 350,000-strong army and police forces…
Mr Hoon accepted that the sacking of so many Iraqis in possession of weapons and military training had been catastrophic, allowing “Saddam’s people to link up with al Qaida and to link up ultimately with Sunni insurgents” in fomenting suicide attacks and sectarian violence…
Yet was there really a “mass sacking”? In fact, apparently not.
L. Paul Bremer, interviewed in The NRO, January 10, 2006:
…Lopez: What’s the biggest myth about your time in Iraq you want to set people straight about in this book?
Bremer: I suppose the myth that we made a mistake “disbanding” the Iraqi army. The facts are these: There was not a single Iraqi army unit intact in the country at Liberation.
There was no army to “disband.” It had “self-demobilized,” in the Pentagon’s phrase…