Sunday, 13 December 2009

Blair's Mission

So, Tony Blair has finally admitted what we all knew - that he and Bush decided to kick out Saddam Hussein come what may and that all of the nonsense about WMDs and imminent danger was just an excuse, in the end a rather inconvenient excuse.

It all came about thanks to Blair's hubristic belief in his own powers of persuasion and spin, and of course his triumph in Kosovo. Blair went on to the world stage and liked it. He briefly took on a messianic role. It went to his head. Suddenly Blair became a kind of honorary neo con, a righter of the world's wrongs. He wanted to put the world to rights, or at least to ride on the coat tails of someone who had the power to do so.

And actually I for one would have minded less if he could just have come out and said so and hadn't tried to pull the wool over our eyes. There was a very good and noble case to be made for ridding the world of Saddam Hussein and his nasty regime, just as there is for ridding the world of Kim Jong-Il, Robert Mugabe, the entire government in Burma and Iran right now. There are also many arguments against of course, not least that it can often make matters worse. It is arguable that we are now having problems with Iran thanks to the vacuum left behind by Saddam, and that's not to mention the other grave problems Iraq has suffered and is still suffering to this day since our intervention, noble or otherwise. That's international politics for you, a delicate balancing act involving some invidious choices.

But even if we decided it was by and large a good idea to rid the world of vicious dictators and to try to instil some democracy and human rights, where do we draw the line? Should we also remove the nasty, illegitimate plutocratic regime in Saudi Arabia? Yes we should but we won't because doing so would plunge us into an economic cataclysm which would make last year look like the fall of Woolworths. As we are discovering both in Iraq and Afghanistan, removing the old regime is just the start. Stable and secure democracies do not come about overnight. Ours took centuries to develop as did most of those enjoyed in what we now call the west.

And we are choosy about which vicious dicatorships we come down hard on. We thoroughly disapprove of those in Iran, Burma, North Korea, Zimbabwe to name but a few and use sanctions and all manner of other means to keep them in check. So why are we doing business with China? I would argue we shouldn't and should use our economic power to force them to behave more reasonably and tolerantly. Then someone would say: okay, what about Saudi Arabia. Ah well, that's oil isn't it.

The idea of interventionism died in Iraq along with its vicious regime and Tony Blair's reputation. It was always a lovely theory but one doomed to wither and die when put into practice. Still, as Blair enjoys the fruits of his international career giving talks on any subject to whoever is willing to pay his price, (last week formaldehyde - kerching!) he has at least finally acknowledged the truth. If only he could have had the courage of his convictions and used his renowned abilities to try and persuade us based on the real reasons. But then he probably wouldn't have got his war would he. Then again we're currently embroiled in Afghanistan based on reasoning not so very different. It started out as being the prevention of terrorism. Does anyone really know what we are trying to achieve now?


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