Sorry, Tony Blair. But you’re wrong. Again.

africapolitmap

So Tony Blair, the great expert on geo-politics — and everything else — lets us into the secret of the Iraq dilemma.  It wasn’t the fault of the West for intervening and toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003.  Or as they say in the playground vernacular “It wasn’t me, Guv”.  Oh no.  But it was our fault in the end, says Tony — because we failed to intervene in Syria!  If we’d spent British blood and Treasure in Homs and Hama, everything in Iraq would be tickety-boo today.  Al Qaeda wouldn’t have got involved.  The ISIS fighters/terrorists would not have come sweeping down from the North almost to the gates of Baghdad.  The oil price wouldn’t be going up.

Aren’t you kicking yourself?  If only we’d listened to Tony.  He was right in 2003.  He was right to go into Iraq.  He was right in 2012 and 2013 when he called for intervention in Syria.  If only we’d listened to the greatest statesman of the last thousand years, all would be well.

That, at least, seems to be Tony’s view, but it’s riddled with hind-sight and self-justification, and indeed I sense that it has attracted a fair degree of ridicule.  Is Iraq better off with civil war and chaos, a haven for international terrorists and Jihadists, than it would have been under a brutal dictator who at least kept a lid on things (at a huge cost in human rights and individual suffering)?  That’s perhaps a question for a university philosophy exam.  But certainly the West is worse off, because Iraq now presents a greater threat to its neighbours, and to the World, than it did under Saddam.

As it happens, I do think that the West is partly to blame for the troubles in Africa and the Middle East.  But I don’t necessarily point the finger at the Iraq invasion, and I certainly don’t believe that military action in Syria would have helped.  Indeed in Syria as in Iraq, there is a debate to be had over which side, and which outcome, is worse.

Look at the map above.  Look at those straight lines that border Syria.  And Jordan.  And Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Niger, Algeria, Chad, Mauritania, Mali.  And to an extent (with a few wobbles) Angola, South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Somalia.  Compare this with Europe, where you’ll find very few straight lines.

The fact is that we’re dealing with boundaries set in the 19th Century, by colonial powers in the Chancelleries of Europe.  Old men with rulers, drawing straight lines on a map, agreeing spheres of influence, and going off in good humour afterwards to celebrate their agreement with oysters and champagne.  These African and Middle Eastern countries were created with a complete disregard of either topography or ethnicity.  Mountains, rivers, watersheds, drainage basins?  Never mind them.  Ethnicity, history, culture, religion, identity, tribal loyalties?  Never mind them either.  These were boundaries for colonial powers, not for local people.

We withdrew the colonial power, but we expect the remaining “countries” to adopt Western Democracy within Western-designated boundaries.  Then we’re surprised to find that we’ve created a permanent structural conflict situation.  We’re upset when local people try to assert their own identities and loyalties.  We demand that the integrity of (for example) Iraq should be respected.  But do its boundaries have any integrity in the first place?

In my view we should not expend British blood and treasure to preserve inappropriate 19th century colonial constructs.  The changes we see going on now have been inevitable for a long time, and I’m afraid they will not be carried through without serious unrest.  But that does not mean that we can or should intervene, and very few of our interventions so far can be regarded as successful.

But there is a more general principle at work here, and one that has huge importance for the European debate.  Political structures should reflect the identity and aspirations of the people concerned.  As Enoch Powell once observed, democracy can only work where a people “share enough in common, in terms of history, culture, language and economic interests, that they are prepared to accept governance at each others’ hands”.  That condition is not satisfied in Iraq.  But neither is it satisfied in the EU.  We can have a debate — indeed we are having a debate — about whether it can be satisfied in the UK, and in particular whether the Scots are prepared to accept governance from a UK parliament in Westminster (where the Scots, as it happens, have been over-represented in many respects).  My view is that democracy can work effectively in the UK, but clearly cannot in the EU.

Cameron was right (for once) to assert that the proposed candidate for EU Commission President, Jean Claude Juncker, has no democratic mandate.  Even if he had been elected in some pan-European referendum, it would have no validity, because there is no common electorate, no demos.  It would be a futile exercise in counting votes.  Arithmetic, not democracy.

We can have a democratic Europe.  But that can only be a Europe of independent, democratic nation-states, trading and cooperating together, because democracy only works in something resembling a nation-state.  We need to dismantle the anti-democratic EU institutional structures before they create the kind of mayhem we’re seeing elsewhere in the world.

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21 Responses to Sorry, Tony Blair. But you’re wrong. Again.

  1. Flyinthesky says:

    The key element here is the corporates wanting to carve themselves a slice of Iraqi action, to replace the imcumbent regime with a more compliant one. We all know that the Saddam regime was led by a leader less than savoury but what have we achieved, precisely nothing.
    We have toppled a regime of extremes and replaced it with another. We don’t seem to be able to accept that peace and harmony cannot be forced, it has to evolve, a laptop, a mobile phone and an half hour lecture on western values won’t cut it.

    All we have done with our half cocked interventions is create a few more thousand souls whose core intent is figuring out how to attack and kill us.
    It has taken many hundreds of years to achieve the semblance of harmony that we enjoy, though there are a lot of factions at work seemingly to undermine and destabilise it, We continually make the mistake that these people operate within the constaints of our mindset, they don’t and in the forseeable future they won’t.

    At this moment in time what we have to realise and accept is our two cultures are immiscible. It isn’t a question of whos’ right and whos’ wrong it’s a question of difference, the differences can not be resolved with bombs either way. Harmonious relationships have to evolve and despite ill fated attemps of subjugation from both sides that is going to take decades.
    It doesn’t fit with the fluffy perspective but it remains nevertheless. We need wise statesmen on both sides not corporate driven warmongers.

    • Personally, I think it’s stretching credulity to blame “the corporates”. They weren’t significant players in these events. And I can’t accept the simplistic and stereoptyped implication that business is bad. It creates wealth and jobs. It pays taxes and pensions. We should be in bad shape without it.

      • Flyinthesky says:

        I don’t intend to infer business is bad, what I would infer is the corporates have too much influence on government and global policy making, indeed it is to a greater extent that it’s corporate interest that is determined to keep us in the eu. It’s them that will be throwing the most fear grenades.

  2. neilfutureboy says:

    if we had intervened in Syria (actually we did, it is just we didn’t flatten the place and send in troops like Kosovo) it would have been to help the democratic, liberal minded, pro-western freedom fighters of ISIS whom we and the Saudis armed. The assertion that that would have helped us against the anti-democratic, genocidal, anti-western terrorists of ISIS in Iraq (they don’t recognise the border as valid, and they have a point) seems non-credible to me.

    Still, say what you like about our ISIS f(r)iends – at least they aren’t as bad as the gangsters, drug lords, sex slavers and organleggers Bliar appointed as our police in Kosovo.

  3. Anne says:

    Mr Blair very dramatically “walked out” of the House of Commons, and thus letting down all those that had voted for him at one time. He surely cannot expect anyone to listen to him now?

    The people were told that this Country could not win the last war, and without doubt in 1939 this Country was not exactly in the best shape it could and should have been, but all pulled together in that war because of one truly GREAT Leader, the like, sadly, we have never seen since-one Winston Churchill. Sorry Tony, you are not among the GREATS.

    However, as we know it is doubtful that we will ever get to have that promised REFERENDUM, we are using the General Election in 2015 as the REFERENDUM we have been denied, and as we know-without doubt- all three major Political Parties want to remain in the EU-forever, we will place our “cross” by any Political Party or Organisation that wants out of the EU. I also add, that the Count after an Election is done on the same evening with all those that have taken part and are looking on, where-as a referendum is not given the same “rights” and certainly not counted on the same evening. All it takes is one very well known leader to make it happen. It may well be the only way we might get out of the EU, for a) I doubt the Conservatives will get in again, and b) I doubt very much they would hold a REFERENDUM anyway.

  4. Jane Davies says:

    Is there anyone more dangerous than a delusional politician? Does he really think we all swallow his views, does he not listen to the people who believe he should be tried for war crimes? He is assured of his place in the history books but not for the reasons he thinks he is, but he has personally done very nicely thank you, eight homes and millions in the bank whilst young men and women did his dirty work and paid with their lives.

  5. Joy Sharman says:

    i think hes a vile warmonger whose past leaves a lot to be desired.he should be held to account for his past …….along with the D bans he issued out to cover for perverts

  6. Bill says:

    That creep Blair should be locked up as a war criminal – he is a really disgusting incredibly greedy scumbag with absolutely no vestige of humanity or compassion and an arrogance beyond belief.

  7. George Morley says:

    Sorry, Tony Blair. But you’re wrong. Again.
    Forget that Roger !
    No apology is required for this excuse for a man.
    He and his wife can stay across the channel and they are welcome to him.
    Just get into parliament and pull the plug in the tunnel.
    Anyway, I always thought that the short boat trip was rather nice.

  8. Thomas Fox says:

    I can not wait to see if someone writes in support of Tony,s military interventionist views for Iraq?

    • catalanbrian says:

      I cannot imagine that now, given the benefit of hindsight, anybody could write in support of that intervention, but there are plenty out there who, at the time, supported both Iraq wars. I dare say that most of them will now deny this. At least I can count myself along with the few who opposed any military intervention by western forces in that area. Osama Bin Laden (yes him) had proposed an all Arabic force to kick Saddam out of Kuwait, but this was rejected by the west, and by Saudi Arabia (that had in Bin Laden’s eyes allowed the infidel to occupy the home of Islam’s holiest sites), so Bin Laden opted for different activities instead. Oh how different the course of history could have run.

      • Jane Davies says:

        I think more than a few opposed military intervention Brian, I seem to remember hundreds if not thousands marching in the streets of London in protest?

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Can you describe to me and those here how boy Bin Laden got to the threat level he appeared to be at?

        I’ll say now that he had influenced nothing until….?

        I have been welcomed into many mosques in the M East as an engineer. That excluded Saudi Arabia which forbids Christians to enter. That tells us something about that country in one respect. The Saudis I met at business/gov levels were not interested in that kind of discrimination. Many of them were educated in Britain, so before we ‘suddenly’ became multicultural, we where there anyway…a long time ago.

        As an ex-military person I am very sure that WW1 tactics of advance line abreast and wreck everything and every body in your path is complete failure. Not just at that moment but for as long as memory holds. Since few in UK/USA study history it indicates that memory remains short and repetition can only follow.

        There is no and likely ever will be an Arab force. Binladen was a fool trying that one. These people are of tribes split by colonial forces. They are also of distinct religious sects and groups of families that need to feed themselves each day. There exists a pecking order and the shebaab of those countries have had enough of both internal and external influences/order. Nothing works for them….yet the rich in their countries get even richer. For them nothing ever changes for the better.

        For us…it almost sounds the same?

  9. Mike Stallard says:

    My very own brother was involved in the planning for the First Iraq War which was a huge success. My father in law at the same time (he was a bomber pilot in the war, so he knew all about risking life and limb for Queen and country too) was shocked that “we didn’t finish the job.”
    When Mr Bush flattered our Prime Minister, elected by you and me, heir of Palmerston, to join him in the second great crusade for 1776, of course, he warmly agreed. We are all human and all the prisoners of our history.

    The fact that both men completely misjudged the situation is understandable given their world view. All men are equal therefore all men are Americans in 1775, ready to throw off the yoke of slavery and sign the Declaration of Independence.

    Sorry – watch this!

  10. Ex-expat Colin says:

    History in the M. East context won’t be fixed. Adding in Western democracy works for some but certainly not the majority…particularly the poor. It all adds up to large gaps that Islam conveniently fills in….extensively.

    The Shiite/Sunni struggle has been on for a very long time. The taking of the Grand Mosque in Jeddah was my eye opener because I was about 10 miles from it. Big guns suddenly appear on street corners in the hands of the uniformed shebaab! Slowly resolved with a bit bombing/shooting and head chopping….of Shiite insurgents from Eastern Arabia. Old festering quarrels.

    Of course head chopping etc always strikes me as something these people are quite comfortable with. Another eye opener was the Death of a Princess (Masha’il) and a british nurse later murdered via fence rails (Helen Smith). The killing/maiming is in the name of the God and written in their book. Add in a bit of crucifixion of course. I only noticed the high profile stuff, just heard of the multitude of limb choppings on Fridays a couple of miles away.

    In the video above we have the audience believing that they are not extremists? I’d call that absurd and a deadly convenience. Perhaps too many of them are frightened to show dissent in the crowd? Thankfully Christianity has.not been doing much similar of late. Certain pages of the old books need removing I think. Tricky though and in the case of Islam the book is generally learnt by rote.

    Anyway, the political bunch clearly know little of history and seem to think modern battle styles can deal with the Middle East. Removing a dictator without a similar replacement never worked. Afgan/Libya will bounce back at us I’m sure – the shebaab again. A lot of people in those places owe us and our pocket puppets some misery. Some of the creditors are here or on their way.

    Then we have the non elected fools within…Brussels. I wonder what the best guess(es) there are about, having screwed with Russia to little effect? Just leaving a dangerous fight to fester and little gas supplied. oh dear…energy again.

    Anybody got a plan for when the planet starts to get colder….not the call for a tanker of gas/oil I hope. No plan, is there?

    There has to be some good news somewhere?

    • Mike Stallard says:

      According to Sadakat Kadri, all this chopping up of people is brand new. It was, of course, always on the Muslim statute book. But while we were butchering people (hung drawn and quartered) and burning other people (Cranmer), the Muslim world was very much more civilized – except in the palaces, of course where people like Saddam Hussein were completely normal.

      Myself I reckon that a lot of the problem is the fact that Muslim families produce many children and half of them grow up into young men for whom everything is Haram. Wandering the streets, all they can do is have big cars, be naughty or fight. Once in a gang, they outdo each other…

      In the West, for a number of reasons, we are mainly composed of elderly people as far as I can see. The gradually disappearing younger ones are sated with things to do, and very soon they are expected to settle down with a family. Hence the cry for peace at all costs.

  11. Richard111 says:

    Yes, Roger, very true that bit about ” Ethnicity, history, culture, religion, identity, tribal loyalties?”
    I worked for 20 plus years in South Africa. When I had to drive some of my staff through a region that was not part of their tribal domain, they would hide in the back of the van. They would not come out until we had left the area. They would not accept they were safe with me. That was nearly 30 years ago. I doubt much has changed.

  12. Richard111 says:

    I have just read about UK passport holders fighting for ISIS ! ! !
    I then read of the possibility of SAS troops being sent to Iraq for defence purposes. The likelihood of British troops fighting British citizens in a foreign country seems to be on the cards.
    How did Britain get into such a mess?

    • Jane Davies says:

      Good question Richard…I assume it’s a rhetorical one. One Anthony Blair, guilty as charged M’Lud! His co-defendants being the members of the Labour government who encouraged mass immigration of all the dregs of world to enter the UK and reproduce like rabbits and indoctrinating their off spring into hating the west on the taxpayers dime.

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