Two of the pivotal figures in the invasion of Iraq have launched outspoken attacks on the "woeful" lack of planning for the aftermath of the war.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former British ambassador to the UN, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burridge, who commanded British forces in the assault on Iraq in 2003, attacked the White House for allowing Iraq to descend into chaos in the days after Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled.
Their critical assessments of the invasion aftermath came as the House of Lords dismissed attempts by the mothers of two soldiers killed in Iraq to force an inquiry into the conflict.
Nine law lords rejected an appeal by Beverly Clarke and Rose Gentle who argued that human rights law required an inquiry into the conflict.
In a book published yesterday, Sir Jeremy condemned the United States for its "woefully inadequate planning and their bad mismatch of resources to tasks after the conflict was over".
Dismissing the attitude to security in Iraq as "careless", he warned that "years of potential progress were sacrificed in those first few days in April and the damage will be felt far beyond Iraq for a long while to come".
It had taken "a long time" for the lessons of the conflict to be absorbed, he said, and coalition troops would have to remain in Iraq "for quite some time into the future. He warned there was "a very poor prospect" that the security situation in Iraq will improve in the near future.
Writing in a collection of essays published by the Royal United Services Institute, the defence think-tank, Sir Jeremy said "assumptions were made about the capacity of Iraqi society to reform itself in an ordered way which did not stand up against the historical evidence or the expectations of those who knew Iraq well."
In a second withering attack on the US-led coalition, Sir Brian attacked the White House, saying that months of post-war planning in the US State Department "were consigned to the waste bin" before troops went into battle.
He said British commanders were deeply unhappy with the decision to disband Iraqi forces and purge public bodies of Baath party members. He said: "I remember the disbelief we felt in the UK headquarters that anyone could ride so roughshod over the lessons of history."
Baroness Hale, one of the law lords, expressed sympathy for the mothers. In her judgment, she said: "If my child had died in this way, that is exactly what I would want. I would want to feel she had died fighting for a just cause, she had not been sent to fight a battle which should never have been fought at all, and that if she had then someone might be called to account."
Ms Gentle, whose son Gordon died in a bomb attack in Basra in 2004, said she would nver accept her son died for a just cause.
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