Bush Lapdog Blair can’t Even Apologize Correctly for Destabilizing the Middle East

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Former British PM Tony Blair reiterated on Sunday some of his previous half-hearted “apologies” for illegally launching a war of aggression on Iraq in 2003.

Blair’s “apologies” always take the form of the little boy who, when instructed to apologize for calling a lady fat, says, “Lady, I’m sorry you’re fat.”

Blair has never apologized for increasing Iraqi mortality or death rates, leaving hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead.

Blair admitted that the invasion in some ways led to the rise of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). But he argues that Daesh was “barely known” in 2008.

This is not true, and is another sign that Blair as prime minister wasn’t paying attention.

Blair-Bush blamed all the violence in Iraq in 2005-06 on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. On his death in May 2006, the organization changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and was led by the shadowy Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. Anyone following Iraq in 2008 knew that ISI was a major insurgency group. They took over territory in parts of Diyala province.

I posted at my blog in 2007 a USG translation of a jihadi’s short history of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq. The extremist participant in a bulletin board said,

“The statement cites President Bush in his press conference, October 2006, as saying that “America’s presence in Iraq is precisely to thwart the establishment of “a strong Islamic state, caliphate,” which will “endanger Western interests and threaten America at home.” The author also says that 70 percent of the Sunni tribes support the Islamic State of Iraq.

The 70% figure is ridiculous. But to say that Daesh was barely mentioned in 2008 is simply a lie, since Bush was actually giving its strength in Iraq as a reason the US occupation had to remain: the ‘caliphate’ had to be defeated. (There was no al-Qaeda or ISI in Iraq, to speak of, before the US & UK overthrew Saddam Hussein).

Blair also suggested that the outbreak of youth revolutions in 2011 would have anyway thrown Iraq into turmoil. That may or may not be true, but it has nothing to do with his invasion of Iraq in 2003.

I wrote on another occasion:

“Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is complaining that he is unfairly blamed for causing the current mess in Iraq and that if Saddam had still been in power it would be just as unstable.

He is, perhaps deliberately, missing the point. His invasion of Iraq was illegal and based on deception and propaganda. That was what was wrong with it. A quagmire that is the fruit of illegality and fraud is the worst.

The UN Charter allows of only two legitimate grounds for war. One is self-defense. Blair was not defending Britain from Iraq when he invaded and captured Basra.

Blair gave the opposite impression to the public. He delivered a bizarre speech in which he said that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction against Europe in as little as 45 minutes. It is not even clear what that assertion could possibly have meant. Iraq had no delivery system for getting chemical weapons to Europe, and you couldn’t have hoped to obtain so much as a sandwich in Baghdad in only 45 minutes. Saddam in any case had no such weapons. British officers scratched their heads and supposed that Blair had misunderstood some briefing he received.

Blair had wanted to misunderstand the briefing. The British ambassador in Washington during 9/11, Sir Christopher Meyer, revealed that the Bush crew wanted an immediate war on Iraq in September 2001. Blair was afraid that if the Neoconservatives left Bin Laden and his training camps in Afghanistan alone and ran off to Iraq, that al-Qaeda would be free to hit London next. So he did a deal with the devil and persuaded Bush to hit Afghanistan first, with the promise he would support an Iraq war later. The ambassador also revealed that the Neoconservatives were worried that the grounds on which they wanted to hit Iraq could also be invoked against Israel (ethnic cleansing, weapons of mass destruction, wars of territorial aggression). They needn’t have worried. Fairness is not a feature of american foreign policy discourse.

The other grounds for war is a resolution of the UN Security Council designating a regime a threat to world peace. The UNSC declined to so vote with regard to Iraq.

The UN Charter was designed to prevent more Nazism and wars of aggression. Undermining this edifice of law encourages militarism and aggression.

Some argue that a third grounds for war should be added, prevention of an obvious genocide. This principle can be debated, but there was no genocide going on in Iraq in 2002, and the Bush-Blair invasion and occupation significantly increased mortality rates. The Saddam Hussein regime did kill people. But many of those died in the Iran-Iraq War, in which Reagan and Thatcher backed Iraq, the clear aggressor. To then use the casualties of that war as a basis for invading Iraq in 2003 is Orwellian.

Blair’s smarmy Christian crusaderism and hatred of Islam drove him to justify the wicked means by what he saw as noble ends.

In summer of 2002, the head of MI-6, British intelligence, visited Washington to consult on the budding war. He was appalled at the atmosphere of intrigue and deception and reported back to London that the intelligence was being fixed around the policy. In intelligence circles, analysts and field officers who tell the executive what it wants to hear, despite the contrary known facts in the field, are called weasels. Sir Richard Dearlove was warning Blair that elements of the CIA and the Pentagon (the ‘Office of Special Plans’) had turned weasel. Deerlove did not realize that Blair himself was a weasel. Blair suppressed the memo.

Blair denied that petroleum was a motivation in the war. But we now know that BP vigorously lobbied him in fall 2002 to make sure it got oil bids after Saddam was gotten rid of, afraid that two Texas oil men in the White House would cut them out of the deal. As it turns out, burning petroleum is destroying the world and inflicting extreme weather events like enormous floods on the UK and it should be outlawed, much less fighting wars to get the poison out of the ground.

Bush and Blair met in winter 2003 and discussed how to bait Saddam Hussein into providing them with a legal cause of war. They considered flying planes over Iraq with UN insignia, in hopes a trigger-happy Iraqi soldier manning an antiaircraft battery would shoot it down. The whole enterprise was false and low in every way.

Blair’s Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, warned him in spring 2003 that there were no grounds in international law for a British invasion of Iraq, and that he and his government officials could face a trial at the Hague if he went through with it. Blair hid the memo, quite dishonestly, from his cabinet. He then pressured the poor man to revise his opinion. Even so, some ministers resigned over the naked act of aggression.”

Blair said Sunday that he misunderstood how the chemical weapons would have worked.

Blair never apologizes for breaking international law by launching a war of aggression.

Blair is about to receive some negative reviews in an official commission report on the inception of the Iraq War, and a lot of people think he made these remarks now to forestall being lynched by the public and the media.

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ODN: ” Tony Blair sorry for Iraq War ‘mistakes'”

19 Responses

  1. Always considered Blair, the worst of the Iraq war cabal.

    Bush is too stupid to tie his own shoes without help, Dick Darth Cheney is unapologetically evil, but Blair should have known better.

  2. Blair is a disgusting little man but he intrigues me, and has since his pre-election canvassing in 1996 when it appeared that my fellow citizens, consumed by some spirit of communal masochism, were actually going to put him in Downing Street; an outcome some might see as a potent argument against universal suffrage.

    He would have had no influence on these events had it not been for Bush, to whom he was a latter day ‘freedman’, offering unctuous advice and egregious support while lining his own pockets, which today bulge with around £60 million (US$92) link to telegraph.co.uk

    • The thing is that the Conservative Party would not have been any better. The Liberal Democrats looked like a good alternative for a while, then in the election after Blair their leader Clegg sold out and formed a government with Cameron and the conservatives. Voters who voted for the LD’s thought they were voting for a left of center party and they and the Labour Party had over 60% of the vote. The upshot is that British politicians seem to have become as corrupt and beholden to big money as American politicians.

    • He got rich and then switched to a religion that has the nice feature to forgive all sins after a detailed aural confession. Makes one wonder if he is as delusional in his confessionals.

  3. Maybe this is better suited for a movie but wouldn’t it be interesting if the Iraqi people filed Crimes against Humanity lawsuits against Bush, Cheney, Blair, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Feith and others involved in the invasion of Iraq. The suit would name all of the above responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of their countrymen and the ruination of their nation. If convicted, even in absentia, a bounty could be placed on the heads until they could be brought to justice in Iraq. I know it’s Just a fantasy but one that makes me smile knowing these warmongers did not walk away unscathed.

    • As vile and squalid as your suggested villains might be, there is a greater problem in how people in the United States and Europe have failed to apply the Nuremberg principles to the United States and the United Kingdom in the same way their forefathers – the so-called Greatest Generation – defined those principles 70 years ago. Not only do we have people guilty of crimes similar to those that got the Nazis in court but they walk free, propose more wars in the mainstream media and have countless admirers. If that is not evidence of moral corruption, what more do we need?

    • And there’s your reason why the US never signed on to the De-Hague human rights court.

  4. Bev Wehr

    Our invasion of Iraq has left the country in a shambles. No apology can undo the tragedy we created.

  5. Blair said Saddam could deploy WMD in 45 minutes against Europe? May we ask (did anyone else ask) what he meant by WMD? To my surprise, WMD has been defined officially (in the USA to be sure) to include the pipe bomb or whatever it was that killed some runners at the Boston Marathon. If a small bomb is a WMD, then EVERY nation has WMD and the allegation that someone has WMDs is nonsensical (but of course rhetorically useful) and conveys no information.

    Perhaps Blair was using the term WMD in a different way. Anyone ask?

  6. It’s incomprehensible how Blair could tacitly admit the 2003 invasion that brought down the Iraqi State, dissolved the Iraqi army and sent Iraq back to the so-called ‘state of nature’ free-for-all Hobbs discussed and then claim that the Arab Spring non-violent reformist movements would have resulted in the same thing. The protests of the Arab Spring brought down leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, but not the foundations of the states’ structures. The feeding grounds for the rise of ISIL were the chaos in Iraq, the barrel bombing by Assad in Syria, the disintegration of Libya after Quadaffi’s war against civilians and Western/Arab bombing in support of (who?).

  7. His try to inscenate a discussion wether it would have been better without an invasion truly is hillarious. Not only that the politics of the western allies deliberately aimed at creating an some kind of ISIS, it’s also as you stated completely missing the point (again deliberately so), that he and his friends in the US inscenated a threat on purpose to stage the war they desired, what clearly makes them war criminals and leaves me wondering how those jerks are still wandering around freely puking out their shitstories instead being charged in Den Haag. Ah yeah right i forgot, the exceptional americans don’t even recognise the Den Haag court, as a judicative institution. Furthermore it seems highly doubtable that an american president can stage a war against the will of his oligarchs, which therefore are very likely to be guilty of war crimes too. Never will there even be an investigation.

  8. Chilcot’s scope changes, access to classified documents and the maxwellisation process et al have prolonged the anticipated publication of the enquiry. Meanwhile, selected inquiry leaks via the media have been tempering the public’s opinion on any potential “smoking gun”.

    Criticsim of Blair and a wider establishment body is anticipated. This maybe the best-worst outcome for Blair; dilution of function from questionable advise.

    • Chilcot is now the big question regarding Britain’s criminal participation in the war on Iraq. Will this inquiry produce an authoritative and honest report, or will the commission render homage to the Establishment as lawyers in a Dickensian novel might have done? At least the Brits have sufficient decency to elect a Jeremy Corbyn to high office. We in the US have many people of similarly high caliber and integrity but not enough people with the sense to elect them to high office.

      • “Utopian public justice” maybe virtuous. On balance, however, a partial body shot is reasonably sustainable, given the pervasive ramifications on a knocked-out status quo.

  9. Blair is one of the most disastrous politicians in modern British history. Not only did he jump on board Bush’s Iraq fraud, but he also reduced the Labor Party to ruins.

  10. In September 2002, I sent letters to multiple heads of states, including President George Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and even President Saddam Hussein, urging them each to resolve their issues with civil negotiation and not war.

    I received a few responses. Blair’s office was notable in that he didn’t even send out a form letter with his signature on it. His response came from Stuart Mortlock of the Direct Communications Unit at 10 Downing Street and gave no explanation of the Prime Minister’s position, saying only, “He [Mr. Blair] does appreciate the time people take to write to him and has asked me to assure you that the points you make will be carefully considered.”

    President Bush didn’t respond for quite a few months, until after the war was underway, but at least he gave his reasons, writing, “In Iraq, we sought to remove a threat to our security and to free the Iraqi people from oppression. Saddam Hussein’s regime has ended and the Iraqi people are regaining control of their own country and future. Pockets of resistance still remain.”

    Ah, yes. Just a few pesky pockets to button up, and then all will be right with the world…

    It makes me cry to look at my original letter–and see that every concern that I had about war against Iraq happened–exactly as I was afraid that it might…

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