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So Blair's essay on the Middle East got an absolute slating.
You can read it here: http://www.tonyblairoffice.org/news/entry/iraq-syria-and-the-middle-east-an-essay-by-tony-blair/
Has anyone actually read it?
Hmmm interesting etc etc.
than he ever did at the time.
His essay's getting an unfair kicking in my view. I don't agree with him on it but then a) I'm not a Middle East diplomacy expert and b) I was never one of the `IT'S ALL ABOUT OIL AND COSYING UP TO BUSH` brigade.
There's much to disagree and debate in the essay, but it's far more nuanced that most commentators seem to have given him credit for.
Whilst I don't agree with the counterfactual example he gives, I think there's much to be said for kicking the narrative that the Iraq war was the sole cause of the current problems in Iraq- without doubt a factor, but history is never that simple.
a Middle East diplomacy expert either.
But we do have to take responsibility for our past no matter how much some people would like us to forget it.
I don't see using more force as being remotely constructive but we should certainly be offering aid and asylum to persecuted minorities in Iraq, and encouraging dialogues asap.
His own actions have had on the entire region. He recognizes radicalization of Islamic terror groups, but fails to recognize the root of that (largely globalized economics, and the Afghan and Iraq wars).
Actually maybe it's not delusion, maybe he's just saving face. Either way he's an utter plank.
as much as they may/almost probably have exacerbated it.
But with specific focus on the ISIS groups involvement in Iraq and Syria atm has been to resist what they see as basically occupant forces, the Afghan war basically forced the group into northern Iraq as far as I can tell. Not to mention the amount of orphans and degradation these wars created have probably been the biggest rally drives for these ultimately very fringe groups.
until the occupying forces left Iraq, and Syria doesn't have an occupying force. So it doesn't square that ISIS are there to resist occupation.
The ideological goal of ISIS is to found a caliphate across the region, which is Sunni in nature. It's a very regional conflict, drawn along sectarian lines.
Of course, Iraq was thrown into turmoil when the coalition invaded, but that's almost by the by now. The US are a total non-player in the conflict atm, unless they decide to start bombing, or unless they assist Iran in some way.
Their main issues have always been sectarian, and it was the Afghan war that shifted their focus from being a small group wanting revolution in Jordan to fighting in Iraq and since then becoming a de facto militia who now pose a real threat along sectarian lines
but there's a very good rule of thumb for anyone who wants you to listen to them comment on Iraq in 2014, which is to read what they were saying in 2003.
He has zero credibility on the issue so it's irrelevant what he has to say about it now.
Seems a bit unfair.
Get that you can think he's wrong (though you haven't read the essay), but don't accept that he has zero credibility on the issue.
Iraq is the single biggest foreign policy blunder of the last 50 years. That alone should disqualify him, but given he's never admitted he was wrong even to this day just highlights his lack of judgement since it's clear to nearly anyone that it was a folly.
And that's before getting into the issue of using his faith as a guide to go into the war into the first place. Anyone who uses imaginary fairy-on-a-cloud BULLSHIT to make policy decisions is not someone who should have a place at the table
was what tipped him over into the category of full-on headcase for me. what the fuck
And that he's genuinely convinced himself everyone wanted to remove Saddam, that the waters weren't muddied with talk of WMDs and 9/11 and that Britain took to the streets in their millions to ask him not to do it. He has credibility in the sense that he's become the absolute voice of neoliberal interference in the area.
equates to "neoliberal interference"? I'd say there's a fairly significant gap between the two.
I think if the Iraq invasion was legal foreign interventionism there'd have been UN resolutions, transparent aims, clear plans and strategies for the withdrawal and a far more robust reconciliation and peace process
is that he wouldn't have written something so long and needy if he wasn't seriously upset about his public image being a mess. he's always been the type of politician who is obsessed with his own legacy and it's satisfying to know that his lack of hero status keeps him awake at night.
The people who like him most nowadays seem to be young-ish Tories. I've met a few just in the last month who, apropos of nothing, mentioned they thought he was a great PM. Really weird the way things turned out for him
about him now.
*Warning - Owen Jones article
But this morning he retweeted his piece from 2010 when Blair's biography was coming out, which seems largely on the money from my perspective re: Blair hating post-Iraq:
`Immoderate views of Blair are held by a minority of the population, while in the media class they are the norm. The notion that Blair was, on balance, quite a good prime minister, is often regarded as an extremist statement. The BBC in particular seems to regard "on balance a good thing" and "war criminal" as moral equivalents of equal weight, and the airing of both as fulfilling its obligation under Royal Charter to impartiality. And this daft idea of balance is made easy not just by the world-view of most BBC journalists but by the easy availability of so-called serious commentators who hold views about Blair – "evil" is an interesting word, used by Matthew Parris on the right and Natasha Walter on the left – that seem to me to be detached from reality. So where does such incontinent Blair rage come from?
I have been puzzling over this for some time and, amid all the bile and insults my inquiry provokes, the response of one Blair hater was useful: "You well know that many people believe he deceived Parliament and this country into an unnecessary war. Given that is what people believe, then the anger is easy to understand isn't it?"
Up to a point, but this only takes the question back one stage: back to why so many people believe such an unreasonable and unlikely thing. And it usually turns out that they don't. Very few people actually believe that Blair had a meeting – on a sofa in Downing Street, naturally – and said to his closest advisers: "I've got this brilliant plan for joining the American invasion of Iraq: we'll say it's all about weapons of mass destruction and when it turns out that there aren't any, everyone will hate me for ever. How does that sound?" Great plan, they all said, and made the necessary preparations.
What people believe is not that Blair lied, but that he was so desperate to keep in with the Americans that he exaggerated the threat from Saddam Hussein. That has the advantage of fitting with what was the conventional view, that the British interest is best served by a close alliance with the US, but overlooks the more obvious reason for assuming the worst of Saddam, namely his previous history of concealment.
Variants of Blair-hating belief are endless; the one that is most pleased with itself being the Clare Short Interpretation, that Blair was so eager to please George Bush that he deceived himself. Well, it's a theory, isn't it? But how does it explain or justify hatred, or the word "evil"? The emotions it might evoke could be pity, or disdain, and the adjective could be weak or deluded. But the anger inspired by Blair suggests that something else is at work.
I think what happened is that the case for use of military force against Saddam was the dominant view of the political-media establishment. It was supported – for all the good reasons that were given at the time – by the leaderships of the two main political parties, most of the newspapers (this one and its Sunday sister notably excluded) and in Whitehall. There was a strongly held opposing view, which mobilised a large demo on the eve of the invasion, and public opinion remained sceptical, although it swung behind the policy once troops were deployed. There were only two important resignations as the decision was taken, one political (Robin Cook) and one official (Elizabeth Wilmshurst).
Then, when the weapons of mass destruction could not be found, there was a big gap to be explained. Historians might explain it by Saddam's practising his last and worst-calculated deception, wanting the Iranians and his own apparatchiks to believe that he had the weapons; by US-British intelligence experiencing the phenomenon of groupthink; and by the military overconfidence generated by Kosovo and Afghanistan. But those explanations did not fill the psychic hole in the here and now – so people preferred to say that they had been deceived than that they shared a mistaken assumption.
That idea of deception is where the poison starts. I don't know why we rarely hear from people who accept that Blair, Cabinet, Parliament and civil servants thought that they were acting in the national interest but miscalculated. But no, we get the most strident commentaries and Socialist Workers Party slogans about lies. From there the idea of deception spreads to contaminate the Labour left, who never forgave Blair for winning elections, and to the Daily Mail right, who never forgave him for winning elections. It feeds the conspiracy theories about David Kelly (who supported military action against Iraq but whose ghost has been co-opted by its opponents). Nothing Blair can say in his book today can stop the flow; the anger against him exists at a deeper level, impervious to reasoned argument, certainly from him`
"I don't know why we rarely hear from people who accept that Blair, Cabinet, Parliament and civil servants thought that they were acting in the national interest but miscalculated"
Always thought the general view was that they were either grossly incompetent or all fucking la la, which amounts to pretty much the same thing.
used the quote direct rather than editing it. I think a fair few people think that too.
But I think that last sentence is pertinent for reasons the writer doesn't address. I think the popular protest against intervention in Iraq in the face of the major political forces wasn't just over the fact of the WMDs existence or not, it was about not wanting military intervention either way. The people weren't necessarily right or wrong, they weren't listened to either way.
The war in Iraq was not just a smash and grab resource war, nor was it a simple removal of Saddam, it was a war over conduct and ways of life. The occupation of Iraq was intended to be Liberalizing and that's what's troubling Tony about the uprising now. It's the growing underlying resentment towards global military enforced neoliberalism that Tony Blair has become a symbol of that means he himself can't argue his way out of it.
So what does `being listened to` mean in this context?
Can't say I disagree with the rest of what you've written. My belief is to be stridently anti-interventionalist until there's a strong case made for military action. It's now 2014 and the case for going to war with Iraq, in my mind, remains unmade. But Tony's having a more reasoned crack now, as I mention upthread, than he seemed to be doing at the time...
There wasn't enough evidence either way to make the case for military action. As it was whether the WMDs existed or not, the public showed in numbers they felt rushed and didn't want military intervention at least until they had a second UN treaty, and that it turned out that the political powers in this country went ahead with it in a very undemocratic manner. Which is part of why Tony has become so symbolic of that mode of governance.
the case for war only went in front of the UN AT ALL because of Blair. Commonly forgotten that Blair actually reined Bush in to an extent over Iraq. Think Blair was convinced he'd get UN backing for it. After he didn't, he'd already promised George he'd go in with him so... the rest is history.
Cameron made exactly the same boo-boo with Obama and Syria last year. Turned out slightly differently mind. And with an arguably more pressing case for intervention! (Although what we learned there is that sometimes just the threat of intervention can be enough).
Which as you said it turned out to be.
I have no doubt Tony Blair thought it was the right thing to do and he could evangelize others. It's the fact that he thought it was right in the first place that makes him a symbol of that Western authoritarian neoliberalism.
Tony Blair and the Far North
being aged like 14 with everyone despising your dad.
from purely anecdotal evidence Leo Blair is a total prick.
is 'Islam - a short history' by Karen Armstrong. Does a great job of explaining how intertwined religion and politics are in Islam. Blair sort of hints at this around the middle of the essay without properly exploring it.
relgion and politics are one and the same isn't it?
but one which I am nonetheless going to use, is that in Islam politics (or 'community') is a facet of religion, whereas in the western world religion is a facet of politics.