Former UK Prime Minister and current Middle East Peace Envoy, Tony Blair, recently took time out of his busy schedule as a consultant and advisor to oil corporations, financial institutions, and various governments to give a speech in London.
The setting for this speech was the European headquarters of Bloomberg ‘the US business and financial news information conglomerate’ and the topic of his speech was the Middle East, specifically the emerging threat posed by the growth of radical Islam across the region.
The former British Prime Minister, and key architect of the war on Iraq in 2003, claimed in his speech:
‘The threat of this radical Islam is not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world. It is destabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation. And in the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effectively.”
In the very same speech, however, Blair reveals that cognitive dissonance is a psychological condition common to Western ideologues such as himself. He said:
‘We call for the regime to change in Syria, we encourage the opposition to rise up, but then when Iran activates Hezbollah on the side of Assad, we refrain even from air intervention to give the opposition a chance.’
The opposition Blair refers to in Syria is primarily made up of the very radical Islamists and he describes it as the greatest threat to the Middle East and, by extension, the world. He can’t have it both ways. He can’t be against radical Islam on the one hand, yet call for those governments and peoples that are engaged in a life and death struggle against radical Islam to be defeated on the other.
But Tony Blair also has to answer for his own role in radicalising Muslims. Not only did the wars he advocated and participated in as UK Prime Minister resulted in chaos and large-scale carnage in the Arab and the Muslim worlds, those also have led directly to the proliferation of the regressive ideology he now sees fit to rail against. The war in Iraq left the country devastated and has led inexorably to a society polarised along sectarian lines, with extreme violence a daily occurrence over a decade on. Blair’s role in the continuing controversy over the legality of the war has seen his political credibility torn to shreds, with repeated calls for him to face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.
Yet rather than demonstrating any regret over his role in the Iraq imbroglio, his rhetoric has reached the stage where no drumbeat to war would be complete without Mr Blair banging the loudest. This was confirmed by his response to the vote taken by Parliament in the UK to exclude Britain from any military action against Syria in 2013. Like that embarrassing uncle who ruins every family social gathering with his propensity for saying and doing the most outrageous things, offending everyone in the process, up popped the former prime minister in an interview with the BBC lamenting Britain’s historic break from Washington’s coattails on the matter of military intervention for the first time in a generation.
For a man who has made a career, both in and out of British politics, as a proponent of might is right, this was tantamount to sacrilege. And for someone imbued with the belief that Britain’s influence in the world is in direct proportion to its willingness to hurl cruise missiles at wherever Washington wants them hurled, it marked nothing less than the nation’s ruin.