EDITORIAL: Blair brought to book
FORMER PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair could be considered one of the most successful British politicians in recent times, at least in domestic economic and social policy. However, history will remember him mainly for his strategic error in going to war in Iraq.
Notwithstanding the initial media hype for his memoirs, A Journey, Blair recently had a moment of reckoning as angry protesters who threw eggs and objects at him at a book-signing ceremony in Ireland. They obviously had a point to convey. There was an eerie coincidence with troop withdrawal from iraq.
They were simply expressing their sense of disgust over the audacity of the British leader to go on and write a book in good faith no doubt, but callous of the death and destruction that his “jingoistic decision had brought for millions of Iraqis”.
In short, when Blair took Britain to war, it is still believed he deliberately misled Parliament and the electorate about the ostensible rationale for it. When no weapons of mass destruction (WWD) were found, he fell back on the previously orchestrated justification that the removal of Saddam Hussein was the “right thing to do”.
Whatever the fate of his book, whether it comes to be known as a bestseller or stays put on the shelves as another manuscript, there are very few people in the world or the Middle East who buy his theory of invading one of the most prosperous Arab countries.
The falsehood about WWD, which the coalition forces were unable to find, despite occupying Iraq for more than seven years will come to haunt the personal integrity and legacy of the leader of one the world’s greatest democracies for a long time. The need of the hour is to put this period of history in greater perspective.
The main reason for Britain’s popular disillusion with Blair is because of his role in the Iraq war, which was launched with the ostensible aim of pre-empting Iraq’s use WMD. Of course, as we now know, none were ever found, and, worse, evidence came to light showing that Blair was aware that the Bush administration was committed to regime change, regardless of their existence.
The infamous Downing Street memorandum of July 23, 2002, eight months before the outbreak of war, stated explicitly that “the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy”.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration did not foresee that Saddam’s removal would precipitate a multi-sided insurgency and civil war. These dangers were predictable, and the world now knows that the war has proved a terrible failure of American strategy, and may yet have even more catastrophic consequences.
The invasion, occupation and ultimate withdrawal from Iraq now seems to be a choreographed affair, intelligently conspired by powers who wanted to redefine the 21st Century with their own sense of direction. It has backfired.
The debt to Iraq now needs to be repaid. Merely memorialising about the war is of little consequence.