“It is a bizarre reading of the cauldron that is the Middle East today, to claim that but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis….The reality is that the whole of the Middle East and beyond is going through a huge, agonising and protracted transition. We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this.”
Tony Blair on why invading Iraq wasn’t actually that bad, 6/14/14
That was seriously Tony Blair’s reading of the current crisis in Iraq. Writing on his website ‘The Office of Tony Blair’, Britain’s chief war cheerleader and messianic evil defeater sought once again to rewrite history in his favor by denying basic facts and reality. According to Blair, the recent outburst of vicious fighting in Iraq caused by Al Qaeda had nothing to do with our botched invasion in 2003 and the decade long civil war that raged thereafter. That would have happened anyway, Blair argued, because 1) even though Saddam didn’t have WMDs, Bashar al-Assad did, and well, Saddam may have tried to get them again, and 2) the Arab Spring would have reached Iraq, and Saddam would have tried to crush it.
There’s a slight problem with Blair’s theory given Al Qaeda had zero presence in Iraq before the invasion in 2003, then flooded the country as a giant power vacuum emerged, and is now causing the upsurge in violence. But they are only details!
Blair has hit upon a brilliant formula here, and all criminals should take heed. If you’d like to commit a murder, just choose someone you think might potentially commit a crime in the future and feel free to blast their head off. If you have any legal recourse, just explain that you can see into the future and predict completely unknowable crisis where the potential criminal would have almost certainly committed more crimes. Et voila, Not guilty! (If that fails, just keep talking about God and Christianity, and hope that people write you off as a religious nutter.)
There was a reason for Blair’s little essay that did the rounds on all the major newspapers: He wants to intervene in Iraq again.
Why does Blair think this is a good idea? Because doing nothing is much worse, he argues:
On the immediate challenge President Obama is right to put all options on the table in respect of Iraq, including military strikes on the extremists; and right also to insist on a change in the way the Iraqi Government takes responsibility for the politics of the country.
The moderate and sensible elements of the Syria Opposition should be given the support they need; Assad should know he cannot win an outright victory; and the extremist groups, whether in Syria or Iraq, should be targeted, in coordination and with the agreement of the Arab countries. However unpalatable this may seem, the alternative is worse.
If ever there were a better argument for not intervening in Iraq, we have yet to hear it. We can quickly deduce a logical course of action in Iraq by sorting out what we know, and what we don’t know and moving from there:
We don’t know whether Iraq would be better off had we not invaded.
We know that our intervention in Iraq was a complete disaster.
We don’t know whether our troops will solve anything.
We know that intervening will surely cause the deaths of more of our troops.
We don’t know whether Tony Blair is right about Iraq this time around.
We know that Tony Blair has been wrong about absolutely everything when it comes to Iraq so far.
Not to point out the obvious, but it’s pretty clear that we should do pretty much the exact opposite of what Blair thinks is the right thing to do. As Mayor of London Boris Johnson wrote in the Telegraph, “I have come to the conclusion that Tony Blair has finally gone mad. He wrote an essay on his website on Sunday…that struck me as unhinged in its refusal to face facts. In discussing the disaster of modern Iraq he made assertions that are so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly at variance with reality that he surely needs professional psychiatric help.”
Had the world figured that out 11 years ago, Iraq may not be on the verge of utter destruction, and we wouldn’t have to listen to Tony Blair pretending he had nothing to do with it.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.