My jaw dropped violently upon hearing the latest astonishing statement issued by former PM Tony Blair regarding the escalating violence in Iraq – “We must liberate ourselves from the notion that we [he] caused this.” Blair went on to say the belief that the 2003 US led invasion of Iraq caused the escalating sectarian violence in the country was “bizarre.”
Bizarre! What has this man been smoking??? The “bizarre” thing here is the outlandish claim also made by Blair that the failure of the West to intervene in Syria is what has caused the current crisis in Iraq. What absolute codswallop!!!
Blair! You need start paying attention to details! The West was never going to intervene on behalf of Assad against the rebels. Quite the reverse. The West was poised to side with the rebels against Assad! And by ‘rebels’ of course I mean (amongst various other factions) Isis Jihadist fighters! The West’s intervention in Syria was only ever going to bolster the Isis rebels, not weaken them. Even George W. Bush knows that (probably!)
Was it not just a couple of years ago that America was harshly criticizing President Putin for providing the Assad regime with attack helicopters to assist him in fending off the attacking rebel fighters (Isis Jihadists). And was it not a few years prior to this that George W. Bush was branding Iran (apparently America’s new ally as they now have a common enemy to unite them) as being part of the “axis of evil”, along with of course Iraq and North Korea.
Sometimes it is said that America and her allies blundered into Iraq without fully understanding its historical context and complex sectarian demographical make-up. This was definitely not the case however. I can confidently assure you that the analysts advising the Bush administration were acutely aware of the balance of power that existed in Iraq prior to invasion, and the potential catastrophic consequences of disrupting this balance of power and thereby creating a power vacuum ready to suck in any extremist faction that happened to be in the neighbourhood at the time.
In fact Iraq is not even a nation state! The geographical absurdity which is present day Iraq is just one of a number of artificial countries created by the British at the end of the First World War out of part of the former Ottoman empire. As complacent as could be those British buffoons cobbled together the mad mash-up of different ethnic groups which currently comprise Iraq, each of which possesses polarized religious and conflicting ideological views. In other words; a random hodge-podge of people not naturally predisposed to get on with each other. Saddam Hussein held together this inherently unstable ‘mix & match’ of cultures by ruthless oppression. I am not condoning Saddam’s control-freak oppressive OCD type behaviour but just highlighting the absurdity of the claims made by Blair and Bush just prior to invading Iraq that they would be creating a more stable and peaceful country by doing so. Yeah right! Pull the other one! I don’t think even they believed what they were saying. Some things are only obvious in hindsight but other things are obvious both in hindsight and foresight, this being one of them.
Interestingly many anti-war demonstrators were aware of all the aforementioned details prior to the invasion, and actually predicted the current situation that would tragically ensue from invading Iraq and destabilizing it, along with the surrounding region. But the fact is that the welfare of the Iraqi people was never paramount in the minds of the Blair government and Bush administration. And it was highly improbable there was ever any serious concern amongst cabinet ministers and US senators that Saddam Hussein was in leagues with Al-Qaeda. There was not so much as one single solitary snifter of evidence to suggest this. In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Al-Qaeda overtly did not exist!
And did the politicians ever believe that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs. Well how much intelligence did they have to validate this view? I don’t know about America but in the UK we had a cracking college dissertation written by some college kid as our source of intelligence, reliably informing us that Iraq possessed chemical weapons and were able to launch and deliver a deadly chemical attack on the UK mainland within the space of 45 minutes! And who are we to argue with some hard-working geeky college kid trying to earn his degree. Couple this with all the excellent resources this young lad no doubt had at his disposal whilst sitting in his bedroom writing his dissertation, such as Wikipedia for instance. This was intelligence information of the highest calibre, fully justifying the invasion of a sovereign state located in one of the most unstable regions of the world.
And what if Iraq did possess WMDs. America had them. And used them. That’s right. Contrary to Obama’s recent bullshit claim that America “does not use chemical weapons on children” (referencing the Assad regime in Syria) America has in fact used napalm (chemical weapons) on villagers in Vietnam. Additionally America to date are the only country to ever fire nuclear weapons in anger. Not once but twice. America singled out the most densely populated city in Japan they could find and nuked them. And what did America do next? Recoil in horror at the resulting carnage and human suffering resulting from the aftermath of a 15 kiloton nuclear explosion. Did they hang their heads in shame at what they had done? Nope. They singled out another densely populated Japanese city and nuked them as well. But I guess that was a legitimate use of WMDs since this was after all ‘war’ and not ‘terrorism’.
But that was a few years ago. America has been quite well behaved since that time haven’t they? Well perhaps in some weird quantum-string dimension they have, but certainly not in this reality. During the 1980’s their frequent support of various tyrannical despots within multiple Latin American countries resulted in several unelected brutal dictators murdering and torturing their own people, effectively making America accomplices in crime. Britain and America also organized a military coup which displaced the democratically elected leader of Iran resulting in the installation of the unelected Shah, a leader well known for ruthless oppression, torture, and keeping most of the country in abject poverty.
Ironically it has also been confirmed that both American and British troops have been using depleted uranium shells (chemical weapons) and white phosphorus (chemical weapons) in military assaults in Iraq over the last ten years of occupation, inevitably resulted in dramatic rises in the rate of birth defects and certain types of cancer within the Iraqi civilian population.
So please Obama do not say that “America does not use chemical weapons on children”. This is an outright fib.
Every country has a right to defend its citizens from external existential threats, but America might just as well have invaded Greenland, a country having about the same level of connection to the 9/11 attacks as did Iraq.
I want to be clear that I am no way siding with or condoning the actions of the ISIS Jihadists in Iraq and Syria. They are a group of people so pathological that even Al-Qaeda washed their hands of them because they were deemed to be too violent to be affiliated with. When an organization who crashes a commercial plane into the biggest building they can possibly find and massacres over 3000 people tells you they cannot be associated with your organization because your organization is too violent, you know you are probably mixing with the wrong bunch of people.
I recently spotted a quote from the conservative political philosopher Edmund Burke on someone’s website, I believe in connection with the 2003 invasion of Iraq – “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Whilst true in some situations it is nonetheless dangerous to regard this as some kind of universal principle that can be successfully applied in any given situation. Doing nothing might sometimes be the best option if the doing something alternative leads to catastrophic consequences. It all depends on the specifics of the situation. But I do not necessarily advocate doing nothing in the context of reacting to atrocities and crisis situations around the world. In many people’s minds however doing something seems to be synonymous with a violent course of action. There are other ways of dealing with a situation other than through violent means. Whilst these peaceful alternatives might not always work out, violence doesn’t always succeed either. Not by a long way in fact, as 20th and 21st century foreign policy has repeatedly shown us time and time again. Looking back over time you can see how one conflict causes or in some way precipitates a later conflict. The First World War gave rise to World War Two (pretty much), the Second World War created the conditions for the Cold War and many of its associated proxy conflicts. And the invasion of Iraq has been utter disaster for everyone concerned (apart from ISIS).
America in particular has continued to have a foreign policy of fighting fire with fire. Some prominent American statesmen seem to think violence is the answer to almost everything. If a movie was produced which contained a fictional character mirroring the personality of Senator John McCain, you would interpret this character as being some kind of caricature. John McCain pretty much wants to bomb everyone who is not American. His answer to almost all situations (within the context of foreign policy) is violent aggression. Whilst many Americans are not quite as extreme as him there is nonetheless an all-pervading culture of fighting violence with violence in the US. America is currently one of the most violent places to live on the planet, perhaps only second down to the countries they have stuck their oar in and messed things up good and proper (like in Iraq for instance).
Violence begets violence. It always has and always will.
Tony Blair has been on the defensive since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Every time something happens in the news which seems to suggest he made the wrong decision by bombing Iraq he immediately goes on the defensive and tries to reassure everyone (including himself, or perhaps more correctly particularly himself) that he still made the right decision by invading Iraq. I wonder if he really believes this deep down though. Maybe on some level he actually realizes this is not the truth. Denial can be a powerful beast. What person wants to face up to the fact that he is partly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, including many innocent civilians. Tony Blair has a vested interest in staving off this notion with all the mental energy he can muster. He can’t afford to allow himself to slip into this way of thinking. Because the minute he does he has to face up to a horrific reality – he is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
I don’t personally believe we are judged by some all powerful deity after we die and sent to purgatory/hell or heaven depending on our actions during our life time. But I think in the final analysis we end up judging ourselves, and ultimately from a very different perspective than we had when we made our decisions. In this sense I believe we all have our day of reckoning.
It should be made clear that no single person can be exclusively blamed for the tragedy in Iraq. In the UK around two thirds of the labour party voted in favour of war and all the conservatives aside from fifteen. The liberal democrats were the only mainstream political party who unanimously voted against the war (partly due to the party whips do doubt). I don’t know what the breakdown of votes was in the US Congress and Senate, but again the blame can’t be entirely pinned on George W. Bush. Or even the Bush administration for that matter.
I want to believe we learn from history. But we never seem to. We keep making the same mistakes over and over in different contexts. It seems that violence is in our blood. We consistently and instinctively look to violent means to resolve issues in many different contexts. And I’m not sure it will ever be any different.
Finally, the words of Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s ambassador to the US from 1997 to 2003, speaking about the current situation in Iraq –
“We are reaping what we sowed in 2003.”
Some Bush quotes:
“Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country.”
– George W. Bush, 2004
“The best way to fight evil is to do some good. Let me qualify that — the best way to fight evil at home is to do some good. The best way to fight them abroad is to unleash the military.” – George W. Bush, 2002