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Blair selling the war in Iraq « Previous | |Next »
April 2, 2006

When Tony Blair was in Australia he laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and to pay his respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

BellSA3.jpg
Steve Bell

When Tony Blair was in Indonesia he called on moderate Muslims to challenge extremists, depicting a clash between "progress and reaction", but he was met with a barrage of calls to withdraw from Iraq on the grounds that the occupation is only promoting more radicalism and new acts of terrorism.They are right. The most withering critique of the Iraq intervention is that it has created terrorists that did not exist before.

Blair's justification of war with Iraq is usually along the lines of his seminal 1999 Chicago speech on humanitarian liberal intervention. As Timothy Garton Ash points out in The Guardian 'putting Iraq in a row with British participation in the interventions in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Kosovo, Blair does not strengthen the case for the Iraq war; he merely taints the case for the brave and justified interventions that preceded it.'

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:13 PM | | Comments (10)
Comments

Comments

"The most withering critique of the Iraq intervention is that it has created terrorists that did not exist before."
That would apply equally as well to Afghanistan and indeed to Australian intervention in ET, as has been stated by no less than Osama himself. To many of us critical of the left's interpretation here, it appears that humanitarian intervention can only occur providing you don't have oil under the ground. Bad luck if you do.

Of course many of us are convinced that if the fundies weren't preoccupied in Iraq, in what they believe is a critical battle of survival for them, then it would be the left's pet UN project in Afghanistan. It would also appear that Bush and Bair are not the only hopeless incompetents
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,18692088-401,00.html

Observa,
that is Tony Blair's argument. You damage your case by equating East Timor with Iraq.

Humanitarian intervention was not the reason for the war in Iraq. It was because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and threatened the security of Australia remember.

Observa,
fight them in Iraq is better than fighting them on the beaches of Australia. That Churchillian rhetoric makes no sense re Iraq.

Unless you buy the clash of civilisations thesis, which I suspect is how you cash the conflict between good and evil.

I was sold on Blair's BOL theory for the ME, albeit I had some reservations, although for mine the graveyard of empires (particularly the Soviets), Afghanistan seemed to me to be the more optimistic venture. With the 2nd election in Iraq, the choice of beacon was looking good, but appears to have dimmed somewhat since. If Iraq falls to the fundies and in the absence of a diversionary schism in Islam, I think the clash of civilisations will be inevitable. A serious attack on a major Western city with tens of thousands of casualties, will signal the beginning of the end of Islam. I'm not confident the fundies appreciate that however. Perhaps like me they know they'll win.

"Humanitarian intervention was not the reason for the war in Iraq. It was because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and threatened the security of Australia remember."

I'm afraid you had to read between the lines Gary. Yes WMD on top of Sept11 gave Bush and Blair their window of opportunity, but it wasn't all about WMD, anymore than oil. Yes they overemphasised the WMD line, unwisely as it transpired, but their electorates could read between the lines. Regime change and BOL, just like Afghanistan. If it were only the security threat, why not simply give Hussein and the Taliban regimes, the Milosevic treatment? That of course is something the UN Afghanistan goooood, COW Iraq baaaad critics, don't really want to address. Or to turn their Iraq question around- When is it mission accomplished for the UN in Afghanistan? The obvious answer of course is- Same as in Iraq

Observa,
Invading and occupying Iraq on geopolitical considerations--which I judge with you to be the key reason---cannot be equated with East Timor.

Australia went to East Timor to stop the killing fields with the UN and it withdrew when the job was done. That is liberal interventionism and it was supported as such in Australia.

You and Blair are wrong to equate the Iraq and East Timor or Kosovo. You cheapen Australia's humanitarian liberal intervention. Maybe that is the point of your argument?

Because you cannotequate the two you can see why the British public no longer believes that Britain's military presence in Iraq is serving any purpose. A substantial majority now want troops to be withdrawn, either immediately or within 12 months, regardless of conditions on the ground.

Of course the real reason for Blair going to war in Iraq was to support the US empire--just like Howard.

Observa,
you write:

If Iraq falls to the fundies and in the absence of a diversionary schism in Islam, I think the clash of civilisations will be inevitable.

'Falls'? The coalition of Shiite Islamists aligned with Iran have come to power in Iraq through democratic elections that were set up by the Americans.

Shouldn't you be celebrating this democratic pathway to regime change along with the rest of the war crowd?

You do seem to equate Sistani's crowd ( the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq) with the Al Quaeda movement---wrongly so, since the Al Quaeda terrorists are fighting the Shiite Iraq 'government' that is backed by the Americans.

I should have said Islamists rather than fundies, in the sense that intervention in Iraq fails to produce a reasonably secular as well as peaceful, civil alternative to Saddam. The situation is critical and as you point out next post, hinges on Baghdad now. Here's another take on this http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2006/04/phase-2.html


"Because you cannot equate the two you can see why the British public no longer believes that Britain's military presence in Iraq is serving any purpose."
My take is Anglo electorates implicitly understood the BOL in Iraq and that's why they backed their govts in the last elections over this, in spite of the intelligence cockup over WMD. They may now have come to the conclusion that the nature vs nurture argument about Muslim Arabs has largely been answered. Their leadership has to exhaust the question fully of course, because if it's inherent in Muslim Arabs'nature, they know what's coming next.

Observa,

The US nightmare of a terrorist al-Qaeda state in Iraq is just not on the cards. It's fantasy stuff spun by Washington neo-cons oblivious to the reality on the ground.

The BelmontClub post is informative about thcurrent tensions around the nominations of Ibraham al-Jaafari as the candidate for prime minister and the formation of a national unity government in Iraq.The opposition to Ibraham al-Jaafari, who wanted a strong central government, comes from the Kurdish, US and Sunni Arab 'alliance.'

Asia Times Online warns that

Replacing Jaafari, though, is no guarantee that anything will change, or that it will not worsen, but the officials visiting Iraq will not want to hear that. Worse, the Shi'ite split opens the possibility of clashes among rival factions, which both have effective militias.

It was never really on the cards that democracy in Iraq would lead 'to a reasonably secular as well as peaceful, civil alternative to Saddam.' That secular bit is neo-con dreaming. The Shiites are a majority in Iraq, even though the Sunni's have historically ruled with the backing of imperial powers (UK & US), and they are theocratic.

The effects of the Shiite power is that Iran essentially has a proxy government-- a friendly government--and Iran's sphere of influence has expanded. The Americans are Americans are working to deprive the Islamists - (or is it just the pro-Iran faction?) from capturing the government. So much for democracy as understood by an imperial power. Imperial powers ensure they are the kingmakers.

As for your peaceful bit, well to me, Iraq is looking more like Lebanon or the Balkans everyday given the emergence of the Shi'ite and Sunni militias. The US is denying this Lebanon reality.even though it says that Iraq is not another Vietnam.