14th December, 2015
Tony Blair and the cognitive dissonance of his detractors
It didn’t take much attentiveness to the news recently to notice that Tony Blair had said “sorry for the Iraq war”. The only problem is that he hadn’t. He apologised for aspects of it, not for the decision itself.
LIE, Mr B-Liar, Lie! Then We’ll Believe You
Such is the desire to see ‘Bliar The Liar’ on his knees begging forgiveness for a decision he believed in – in other words such is the desire to hear him LIE – that those who disagreed with the Iraq intervention have been on cloud nine, or perhaps eight, since the apologies were aired.
This is cognitive dissonance verging on self-delusive insanity.
We know he lies, so therefore we can’t believe him. But even if he is lying as regards how he lied about Iraq we’ll believe him this time. We won’t forgive him for lying about Iraq and we’ll still describe him as a lying war criminal – because he lied. But we’ll definitely believe him when he admits that he lied about Iraq because we knew it all the time. We won’t believe anything else he lies about, which is everything, as-we-all-know. Honestly!
Video – Tony Blair says he’s sorry for Iraq War ‘mistakes,’ but not for ousting Saddam Hussein. [Longer video clip here]
Sorry, but he didn’t use the simple word that everyone who “knows” so much about the Iraq war wishes he had.
Asked if the decision to go into Iraq was a mistake Mr Blair replied, “Whenever I’m asked this I can say that I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong… I can also apologise for mistakes in planning… and in our understanding of what would happen once you remove the regime… but I find it hard to apologise for removing Saddam. Even today, in 2015, it’s better that he’s not there than that he is there.”
“Sorry” isn’t the hardest word, it’s inappropriate
There are reasons he didn’t use “sorry”, although our perpetually honest press insisted he did, and none of them is because it’s the hardest word. The comprehensive and encompassing reason is that there are many aspects to the Iraq war and none of them are anywhere near as simplistic as ‘if Blair hadn’t lied about WMD or hadn’t sucked up to the Yanks we wouldn’t have ISIS in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia… or Boko Haram in Niger… or Al-Shabaab in Somalia… or Al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)… or home-grown terrorism… or refugees flooding Europe’.
It’s Islamism, and it wasn’t invented by Tony Blair
The reason for all of the above-mentioned terrorism and its consequences is that Islamism has taken a hold throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa and its effects are now felt worldwide. To blame that “rise” on one man’s decision to support an ally twelve years ago is either stupid or is to imbue him with superhuman powers. Americans do not blast G W Bush daily for his decision on Iraq, yet many Britons, at least in our media, seem content to both ignore Bush and to lambast Blair relentlessly. Another example of their cognitive dissonance.
In my opinion it is fair and balanced if Mr Blair is apologetic about some aspects of that political decision and some of the consequences and fallout. It is also reasonable for him to point up that other aspects are not so simple.
It’s noteworthy that no British media outlet has used the entire CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria GPS (Global Public Square) “Long Road to Hell: America in Iraq”. The media has shown or referred to parts of the two-minute excerpt of course, usually with a flourish of ‘Told you. He lied. He’s pre-empting Chilcot’s lambasting. Preparing his defence for The Hague’. But that media omission is unfortunate. Some might say it betrays bias.
ISIS’s rise? “Elements of truth…”
Grabbing the headlines, or rather the sub-headline under “Blair says Sorry for Iraq”, was his “admission” that there are “elements of truth” in the argument that Iraq had caused “the rise of ISIS”.
Asked if the invasion of Iraq is the principle cause of the rise of ISIS he responded, “I think there are elements of truth in that, but I think we have to be extremely careful otherwise we will misunderstand what’s going on in Iraq and in Syria today.”
“We have tried intervention and putting down troops in Iraq; we’ve tried intervention without putting in troops in Libya; and we’ve tried no intervention at all but demanding regime change in Syria. It’s not clear to me that, even if our policy did not work, subsequent policies have worked better.”
Tony Blair: “I Am The Least Significant Aspect”
Highlighting that neither intervention, partial intervention nor non-intervention have produced longed-for peace in the region, he said:
“When I think of my ‘crime’, if you like, which is removing Saddam Hussein and then I think of what frankly has happened in the world as we’ve watched Syria unfold in these last years, with hundreds of thousands of people dying… and we have stood back and, we in the west, and again we bear responsibility for this – Europe most of all – we’ve done nothing. I don’t know. I think that’s a judgement of history I’m prepared to have.”
“… this was the most difficult decision I ever took in politics and I was aware at the time I was taking it that it was going to be politically extremely difficult […] I agree it’s been a huge political problem but I am the least significant aspect of this. It’s what’s happening today that should really concern us”.
The sharp-eyed among you will notice that at no time does Tony Blair openly castigate the Americans, either in Bush’s administration or in Obama’s. To many the present US government’s “hands-off” approach to the Middle East is far more responsible for the “rise of ISIS” than is Tony Blair.
But who am I to opine when so many out there “know” so much more?
By Blair Supporter
Please note: articles and posts on ‘Vision’ reflect the views of the individual authors and not of all involved in ‘Vision’.
- Tony Blair (watch full video) at House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Friday 11 December 2015
- Nigel Biggar – On Not Apologising for the Iraq War
- Charles Moore on Chilcot – Inquiries are not about making victims feel better
- Bagehot, The Economist – Damned whatever Chilcot Says?
- Reportedly, Labour MP Mike Gapes Says the Chilcot Inquiry Shouldn’t be Published
- John Rentoul (From 2013 but still relevant) – Tony Blair: poster boy or cartoon villain?
- Where ISIS has inspired attacks
- Al-Qaeda in Yemen
- ISIL Vs Taliban – Brainwashing children in Afghanistan