Sunday 17 December 2017

Blair goes beyond parody in new bid to absolve himself

Tony Blair backed George W Bush’s Iraq plan.
Tony Blair backed George W Bush’s Iraq plan.

Ian Birrell

Please forgive me. I know we should ignore his latest attention-seeking outburst, like a kind parent might turn their back on a child prone to temper tantrums. But it is hard when he pops up to pollute the airwaves and defile acres of newsprint with silly statements. So, once again, we must focus on former UK prime minister Tony Blair, who has moved far beyond the point of parody with his latest attempt to absolve himself of guilt over the terrifying events in Iraq.

As a group that even al-Qa'ida thinks too violent runs rampage through Iraq, exploiting the region's chaos in its drive to recreate a repressive medieval caliphate, Blair pens a 2,848-word essay, claiming it is "bizarre" to blame the crisis on his 2003 invasion. Incredibly, he still argues that Saddam Hussein might have used weapons of mass destruction, despite the crushing evidence he had given up such devices. As Blair blames everyone but himself for the current carnage and bloodshed, he even claims to speak "with humility".

These are the delusional and self-serving ravings of a man who just a year ago bragged that Iraq was a better place for the removal of Saddam. As he flits around the world giving speeches on democracy, while receiving huge cheques from despots, the former Labour leader seems to have lost touch with reality.

Even if you put aside the most obvious flaw in his argument, that the invasion of Iraq and its appallingly bungled aftermath clearly upset the stability of the region, there are many layers of hypocrisy in his Middle East approach.

Consider, for a start, who funds Isis, the group threatening Baghdad and accused of all those hideous atrocities, along with some of the other Islamic militants in Syria. There is evidence that significant finance flowed from and through Kuwait, an initially supportive regime turning a blind eye to donations in its desire to see President Bashar al-Assad overthrown. Curiously, millions also flowed from this same oil-rich state into Blair's companies.

Then there is Saudi Arabia, whose malign presence lurks behind so many of the problems that Blair raises in his proclamations on freedom and modernity. This nation is, of course, run by a theocratic absolute monarchy that represses women, is ruthlessly intolerant of other religions and sects, and spends vast sums promoting a corrosive hardline brand of Islam which gave birth to al-Qa'ida. The Saudis have also been accused by Iraq's government of funding their fellow Sunnis in Isis.

Or look at Egypt, where Blair once borrowed a holiday home from his despotic friend Hosni Mubarak, before hailing him as "a force for good" as the blood of protesters demanding democracy started spilling in Tahrir Square. Now he backs a general who led an army coup against an elected government, praising him for rescuing the nation, despite the deaths of 1,600 dissidents and jailing of 10 times that number.

Blair backs democracy until it delivers results of which he disapproves – and then he jumps back into bed with despots while pontificating about oppression. Even yesterday, this shameless man talked about the problems of leaving dictators in office, yet he lends fig-leaf respectability to tyrants he advises, such as Paul Kagame in Rwanda and Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan.

Never an apology. Never any sign of awareness, trapped on his self-harming journey to wealth and global vilification. Never any reflection on the blood spilled, nor the struggle of those really fighting for human rights.

Blair is a messiah in his own mind, reviled by most others. (© Independent News Service)

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