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  • Tony Blair ”very much exaggerated” Iran’s role in supporting al Qaida

    by Sunny
    7th July, 2010 at 3:44 pm    

    Oh wait, it’s another Tony Blair makes up shit to support his foreign policy shocker today.

    These have become so regular that it’s almost difficult to get fazed by them. A few people keep defending Tony Blair on foreign policy with the view that he “wanted to do the right thing” etc etc. But here’s the point: if you started to list all the exaggerations and rubbish claims his administration made in order to justify foreign policy aims, you can only come to two conclusions:

    1. Either he was incredibly uninformed and made bad decisions on that basis (in which case he was unfit for purpose)

    2. He made decisions first and then bent facts and narratives to fit that. In which case he was also unfit for purpose on foreign policy.

    There really aren’t that many other options.

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    1. sunny hundal

      Blog post:: Tony Blair ''very much exaggerated'' Iran's role in supporting al Qaida

    2. Derek Bryant

      RT @sunny_hundal Blog post:: Tony Blair ''very much exaggerated'' Iran's role in supporting al Qaida <Dog bites man

    1. Guano — on 7th July, 2010 at 5:18 pm  

      The comment about Blair making a series of bad decisions in 2003 about the legality of the invasion is the bit that is really damaging to Blair. Dalton also seems to be suggesting that it was these decisions that led to Blair making the exaggerated statements about Iran, ie bending the narrative to fit the decisions.

    2. earwicga — on 7th July, 2010 at 5:34 pm  

      Reason 3. Tony Blair is the second coming…

    3. MaidMarian — on 8th July, 2010 at 10:14 am  

      Sunny - I realise that when it comes to Blair you turn into a slightly less swivel-eyed version of Melanie Philips, but could you just stop for a moment and just think of the possibility that there was actually no bad faith. There was no moment when Blair woke up and went, ‘you know what, I hate al Muslims and I’m going to work agianst their interest because I hate them so much.

      Sunny, on Iraq there were no lies - at least not in any meaningful sense. I agree with the analysis that there was a sort of ‘lawyerly lie.’ (for want of a better expression. That what happened was a collective group think, a term used in the US Senate inquiry, that worked to exclude other analysis. This, indeed led to bad decision.

      Your analysis number 2 would be a bit more worth were it not that other intelligence agencies around the world harboured suspicions about Iraq’s WMD.

      There were bad decisions and very poor policy-making, but your sense of affront and injustice is, I fear, misplaced and bordering on the obsessive.

      And this is not to forget Sunny that Blair was comfortably reelected post-Iraq. Unless you want to argue that Iraq was not a factor in 2005?

      There is a more interesting question about Iraq. Historically the great foreign policy disasters have tended to come from underrating the enemy. In this case Iraq was massively over rated. How that happened is a far more interesting question than is a cack-handed attempt to keep ramming the square peg of identity politics into the round hole of foreign policy.

    4. platinum786 — on 8th July, 2010 at 12:56 pm  

      The man is a fucking idiot, but he’s less of an idiot than those who believed him. If anyone had bothered to ask some neutral experts, ie those not being paid by a lobbying group or government, you’d soon find how preposterous the entire notion of Iran and Al Queda being linked is.

      Al Queda consider Shia’s to be non Muslims, fair game, they’re a hardcore Wahhabi’s at the core, and also hardcore Arab supremists. They hate the Iranians because they are Shia and because they are Persian.

      Everyone has heard of “Your enemies enemy is your friend”, but you’ve also heard of “spiting your face, by cutting your nose”. An Al Queda victory in Iraq would only mean negatives for Iran. Iran wants it’s influence in Iraq, not Arab influence.

      Why would they bother when they had plenty of Shia militias to support.

      The same applies in Afghanistan. Why would they support the Taliban? Especially considering they were going to go to war with then in 1998.

    5. fugstar — on 8th July, 2010 at 1:40 pm  

      we should make a spitting post memorial to bliar, along edgeware road somewhere, the Evil gitoid.

    6. MaidMarian — on 8th July, 2010 at 2:10 pm  

      platinum786 - With respect (and I do mean that).

      Is there not a possibility that you are looking too hard? That, on balance, a decision was taken that military action was necessary to counter a threat? That there was infact no double-think agenda? That ‘neutral experts’ (whatever that means) were asked for their views?

      I make no value judgment here on the quality of that decision.

      Has to be said, for what it’s worth, I have always thought of North Korea as a far greater threat to peace than Iran.

    7. platinum786 — on 8th July, 2010 at 2:48 pm  

      MaidMarian, you refer to military action? I assume your referring to Iraq, whereas I was talking about Blair’s attempts to link IRAN to Al queda.

      I’m sure Iran does have a hand in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are both on it’s borders, both are occupied by countries who consider Iran an enemy. However this doesn’t extend to support to Al Queda or even the Taliban. Iran has other pawns in these countries. In Iraq it has shia militia’s in Afghanistan, it has Ismael Khan as well as other non pukhtun groups it can work with.

      As for the decision to go to war in IRAQ. There must have been something else behind it. There is no way, anyone could have considered Iraq a military threat to Britain, WMD or no WMD. Saddam was all about number 1, he did everything he could to preserve his power. He would never attack Britain or the USA, not even Israel, as it would result in a military defeat and the end of his power. You are only king in your own castle.

      In my opinion, Iraq was about regime change, to gain access to an oil well without having to deal with Saddam. What I know for a fact is, what we are told is not the truth.

    8. MaidMarian — on 8th July, 2010 at 3:44 pm  

      platinum786 -

      ‘There is no way, anyone could have considered Iraq a military threat to Britain, WMD or no WMD.’

      Open to question. It is not as if the UK were alone in thinking that there likely were WMD. And whilst there was little if any AQ in Iraq, it is not as if Saddam was anti-terror. Go and read the Guardian’s obituary of Abu Nidal for a good summary.

      ‘He would never attack Britain or the USA, not even Israel, as it would result in a military defeat and the end of his power.’

      I suspect that you are right about the US and UK, though I’d be a bit more circumspect about the Israel part of that.

      As to oil - if Saddam was all about no 1 (which I totally agree with you on) I have often wondered why not just drive $5bn to the Baghdad palace and ask him and his family to kindly go away.

      I imagine that oil was in the balance somewhere, and to be totally honest with you, if Blair had said as much a large part of the public would not have been averse.

      With Iran, that is simply a despicable ruler shrieking for attention. It is sad that he is very good at getting it.

    9. Sunny — on 8th July, 2010 at 4:44 pm  

      but could you just stop for a moment and just think of the possibility that there was actually no bad faith. There was no moment when Blair woke up and went, ‘you know what, I hate al Muslims and I’m going to work agianst their interest because I hate them so much.

      But you accept he lied to fit the facts into his plans?

      I never said he hated Muslims. I don’t believe that.

    10. MaidMarian — on 8th July, 2010 at 5:11 pm  

      ‘But you accept he lied to fit the facts into his plans?’

      No. At least not to any definition of ‘lie’ that is meaningful. As I said, lawyerly lying. Building a case to the exclusion of anything that demurs.

      The US Senate inquiry got it spot on for me. There were no lies, just a collective group-think that made for lousy policy.

    11. BenSix — on 8th July, 2010 at 8:14 pm  

      There were no lies…

      Lies! Lies! Lies!

    12. joe90 — on 8th July, 2010 at 11:47 pm  


      god apparently told tony blair to invade iraq so your on safe ground really you are.

      The iraq invasion was plain wrong, US where going in to grab the oil and rebuild contracts and britian wanted to tag along.

    13. Sunny — on 9th July, 2010 at 2:43 am  

      I think you’re the one on thin ice MM :)

    14. MaidMarian — on 9th July, 2010 at 9:59 am  

      OK Sunny - let me give another example of this, recently in the news. Climategate and the CRU e-mails.

      Did Prof Jones lie? No he did not (though I suspect that some around him might be harder to defend).

      Jones did not lie and he did not act in bad faith. Just what the e-mails showed was an environment where everyone had a world view, supported by evidence, counter-balanced by other evidence.

      At the CRU there was a collective group think that disregarded the balancing evidence. No one lied, just there was a poor process that had the effect of shutting out dissent.

      My point is that you are too quick to assume bad faith. Perhaps because you have made your mind up that Blair is a bad egg and you are shaping the evidence to that conclusion?

      Best of luck to you.

    15. Guano — on 9th July, 2010 at 12:55 pm  

      But what led to the group-think world-view in which Tony Blair could claim that it was an established fact that Iraq had WMD and should thus join in the invasion even though inspections were ongoing, no WMD had been found and there was no second resolution?

      A couple of factors seem to be especially important. One is the culture inside the UK political elite (and particularly inside the Labour Party) of not asking questions and indeed of thinking that asking quesions is a bad thing (eg “let’s not go back to the ’80s when we had debates”). Many Labour Party MPs and members simply repeated the talking-points handed to them by spin-doctors, even when they were quite ridiculous, and ignored the questions being put to them by the public. They saw their role as repeating the party-line and not as holding the Government to account.

      The second is the emotional attachment of the UK political elite to the USA. Blair’s “Blood Price” speech of early September 2002 is probably nearer to the truth than the supposedly rational (but erroneous) argument that Iraq’s WMD were an established fact so we had to ignore the inspections and the lack of support from the UNSC. Group-think was led by this emotional attachment to the USA and by the wish to make ageing hippies like myself “get over their anti-American hangups”. This drove the group-think that led to suspicions about Iraq’s WMD becoming established facts, and led to an inability to focus on the fact the the USA had set out a doctrine, illegal in international law, of attaching a country because iot might be a threat in the future.

      The climate-change scientists have accepted the need for more challenging of their conclusions. I see no acceptance in our political culture of the need for more accountability and more challenging questioning of received wisdom.

    16. MaidMarian — on 9th July, 2010 at 1:25 pm  

      Guano - Well, I don’t think the climate scientists have learnt a thing, and I think that many do indeed need to knock that anti-US chip off their shoulder.

      Aside from that however I think that the points you raise are spot on.

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