“Yo, Blair” was the way George W. Bush liked to address Her Majesty’s first minister. Dubya must be thanked for not referring to him as Fido or Rex.
For it was with canine obedience that Blair sent British soldiers to die next to Americans in Iraq. The only conceivable rationale for that incursion would have been to get rid of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and in fact that explanation was bandied about at the beginning.
However, since it soon turned out that Iraq had no such weapons, another explanation was urgently needed. That was helpfully provided by the neoconservatives, who inscribed on their flags words like ‘nation-building’, ‘democracy’ and ‘free elections’.
Apparently, the US and Britain went into Iraq because it was a despotic dictatorship. As a gesture of good will, the allies would eliminate Saddam, a figure they themselves had manufactured as a counterweight to Iran.
Rid of this clearly undemocratic person, Iraq would become like Norway. Or, barring that, at least like Portugal. And while at it, Bush and Yo Blair would perform a similar service for other Middle Eastern nations bending under the yoke of undemocratic rulers: Syria, Egypt and Libya — but not Saudi Arabia that has a lot of oil.
It was time they too were introduced to the delights of Western democracy, bicameral parliaments and independent judiciary. Once they were graced with such gifts, they’d instantly see the light that had somehow failed to shine on them for the previous 1,400 years.
That was arrant, wicked nonsense, and acting on it could only have had the disastrous effects it did indeed produce. A bloodbath ensued, the more impassioned Muslims groups began operating from a base of wide popular support, all of the Middle East was set aflame, jihadist groups like Isis and Muslim Brotherhood sprang out, a window was open for Russia to climb in.
True, neither Saddam, nor Gaddafi nor Mubarak was indeed a democrat. They were all variously unpleasant tyrants. However, they managed to instil a semblance of order in their rather savage lands. When they were ousted, order disintegrated.
Emerging out of the chaos weren’t Muslim answers to Lincoln, Churchill and Mother Teresa. Jihadists moved in, and the Middle East exploded into internecine wars waged under the green banner of Islam. As a side benefit, Europe has been inundated with an influx of refugees, most of them not only alien to Western culture but downright hostile to it.
Any leaders blessed with even average intelligence and a modicum of education would have known that such an outcome was entirely predictable – while no other was imaginable. Yet neither Dubya nor Yo Blair possessed such requisite assets.
Blair, whose photo should be in the dictionary next to the entry for spiv (n), was different from Bush, however. He complemented his mediocre intellect with such qualities as perfidy, sleaziness and maniacal conceit.
It’s from this base that he has now launched an attack on Biden and Johnson, whose withdrawal from Afghanistan Yo Blair described as “imbecilic”. Takes one to know one, I suppose.
Upon closer examination, however, one discovers that it’s not withdrawal as such that meets with Yo Blair’s disapproval, but the hasty manner in which it was executed.
Yes, our involvement in that country wasn’t a “hopeless endeavour”. On the contrary, it was a qualified success. And the death of 457 British and 2,433 American soldiers “was not in vain”. Still, nothing wrong with leaving if that’s what we felt like doing. However, withdrawing hastily betrayed “all those who need to be evacuated”.
Yo Blair has to choose. Should we have stayed for a long time because our mission was a rip-roaring success? Or just a few more days because we owed it to friendly Afghanis?
His love affair with himself, made so much more fervent by certain failings of mind and morals, won’t let him say what should be obvious to everyone. The truly imbecilic thing to do wasn’t coming out. It was going in.
There’s no doubt that a country lending its territory to gangs of terrorists having the West in their sights must be discouraged. But, as both common sense and empirical proof show, putting boots on the ground isn’t the right way to go about it.
Such countries could be cut off from the world’s economy with boycotts, not just a few sanctions. They could be blockaded and thus denied basic supplies. Their communications, from the Internet to the telephones could be jammed. Their utilities could be sabotaged. They could be hit with punitive bombing raids, of a severity commensurate with the crimes committed by the gangs they harbour.
Before long the governments of those countries would decide that perhaps they’d like to be our friends after all. And that means getting rid of the jihadist gangs, using the weapons I’m sure we’d be happy to provide.
That doesn’t mean that the West should never send its troops abroad. But this should be done for strategic reasons, not because some foreign leaders don’t conform to our idea of governance.
Even as we speak, the US alone is keeping the better part of 200,000 of its soldiers in various countries around the world, such as South Korea, Cuba, the Philippines and quite a few others. British involvement is smaller, only about 2,300 soldiers, mostly deployed in Eastern Europe to act as tripwire in case of Russian aggression.
An extra 2,000 Americans and a few hundred Britons that supposedly would suffice to keep Afghanistan out of Taliban’s clutches wouldn’t have made much difference. And after all, no allied soldier has been killed there for 18 months.
In that sense, Yo Blair had a point, even though he ignored the much bigger one, that we shouldn’t have sent our troops to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the Middle East.
Looking at the state of that region, not to mention Europe, that has transpired as a direct result of the two decades spent by Anglo-American soldiers there makes it hard to argue that invasion is the way to go.
It takes a remarkable absence of any self-critical faculty for someone like Yo Blair to throw stones out of his glass house. He should stick to making his millions out of assorted tinhorn dictators, some of them not conspicuously better than Saddam or, for that matter, the Taliban.
I for one would love to see him answering some pointed questions at the Hague. But then few of my dearest wishes ever come true.