BBC’s “Newsnight” did a special last Tuesday on the Iraq War after 10 years that included an interview with Cabana Boy Tony Blair. It’s a remarkable interview for a couple of reasons; give it a watch:
The second part of the interview is longer, but also worth watching, and can be found here.
First of all, even though I’ve watched UK news interviews before, it’s still stunning to watch a reporter actually press a high-profile politician for actual answers and to challenge them repeatedly. That simply doesn’t happen here.
The second striking thing in this interview is the extent to which Blair is either in denial or has just lost the plot. He simply doesn’t care that Iraq went so very badly or that the justification for the invasion was utterly fabricated. Indeed, the second part of the interview makes it clear that his biggest concern in the aftermath of Iraq is that maybe the public won’t go along so blithely the next time people like Blair and Bush concoct a reason to do war on a country that poses no obvious or immediate threat. He’s pressed several times on the fact that the pre-war justification for the invasion, Iraq’s supposed WMD program, was completely bogus, and it’s as though he can’t understand why this is even an issue; WMD was never the point, right? Blair is asked what he thinks about when he thinks of those who died in Iraq, which he claims to do “every day of his life,” and he’s nonplussed, essentially saying, “Sure, it sucks that some people died, but you can’t make a Wog omelet without breaking a hundred thousand or so Wog eggs.” He’s asked about the effect Iraq has had on his popularity back home and his response is not to address the core of the issue, but to peevishly defend his personal stature.
Blair, more than Bush (who clung to the notion that the war was about Saddam’s non-existent WMD program long past the point where everybody knew that was bullshit), belongs to the “White Man’s Burden” school of foreign policy. He’s circled from WMD and threats of terrorism back to “look at what this brutal regime was doing to its own people” as his rationale not only for Iraq, but for all the wars he’s wishing we’d start now, chiefly with Syria and Iran. How could we not topple Saddam, Blair’s argument goes, when he’d done so much harm to his own people? How can you silly doves care so much about the 100,000 or so Iraqis we killed in the war when Saddam was killing so many, both in his own country and in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War? Several times he mentions the million who died on both sides in the Iran-Iraq War. This is slick, because it’s intended to directly counter the 100,000 casualties of our invasion, but it ignores the fact that the Iran-Iraq War ended in 1988, Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1994, but the toppling of Saddam Hussein over the brutality of the Iran-Iraq War only apparently became an urgent issue in 2003. Did Blair figure we should give Saddam 15 years to see if he could figure out how to raise the war dead before we punished him for his misbehavior? And if Saddam’s brutality toward his own subjects was worth the price of the invasion, why aren’t America and the UK in 20 or so other countries right now, whose governments are just as vile as Saddam if not more so (but not Turkmenistan, which is very wonderful and free and a paradise on Earth)?
The “saving the Iraqi people” argument has never worked as a justification for the war, but it’s all Blair has got. The more insidious aspect of that argument is the implicit idea that it must be the West’s role to save the poor unfortunates of the world from the horrible despotic governments that are all they’ve ever known and all they can ever have. Those poor Iraqis, this argument goes, we have to topple their dictator and bring the wonders of Western democracy to them, because they’re not capable of achieving freedom and better lives for themselves. Replace “Iraq” with “Iran” and you’ve got the core of Blair’s lust for war with them. One would’ve thought the Arab Spring would’ve demonstrated that Arab populations can achieve deep political and social change on their own, but apparently not. It’s up to Tony Blair to pull on his tights, grab his cape, and fly off to fix the lives of (some of) the oppressed peoples of (some parts of) the world, apologies in advance for the mass casualties that will entail. It’s utterly offensive, and guess what? It doesn’t do any good, because all the “problems” that “they” have “over there,” the ones that “we” can’t help but be involved in (and one of Tony’s favorite arguments is that we’re “unfortunately” affected by turmoil in the Arab world so we just have to intervene and save those poor folks, like it or not)? We just make them worse when we intervene as clumsily as we did in Iraq.
But for Tony Blair, studying history is for sissies. Any sane person would look at Iraq and say, “boy, I hope we in the West learn from our mistakes there so we don’t repeat them.” Tony Blair, forever insane from his days as W’s cabana boy, looks at Iraq and says, “boy, I hope people aren’t so discouraged by Iraq that they won’t let us do it again!”
We’re ruled by sociopathic nitwits.
Here now, for Tony, the song that captures his real reason for going along with the Iraq War: