Last Sunday (Oct. 25), former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Fareed Zakaria on CNN that the 2003 Iraq invasion was an “honest mistake”; and there were “elements of truth” in the assertion that the invasion was principally responsible for the rise of the Islamic State. By imputing the decision to invade Iraq to “weak intelligence”, he (sort of) felt sorry for the unnecessary deaths of allied and Iraqi soldiers. In view of his wishy-washy and deceptive statement, one has no reason to call it an apology. Not at all!
Renowned Middle East historian Juan Cole – who calls Blair a “Bush Lapdog” – believes that the former British PM's half-hearted “apology” is like that of the little boy who, when asked to apologize for calling a lady fat, says: “Lady, I'm sorry you're fat”. Cole is right, “Blair has never apologized for increasing Iraqi mortality or death rates, leaving hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead. Blair never apologizes for breaking international law by launching a war of aggression”.
Defending his and Bush Administration's “honest mistake”, Blair justifies the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, as if the West had any right to do so, and if the world today is a better place without Saddam Hussein! Even Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump thinks the world would have been a better place with Saddam and Qaddafi around. However, like his fellow war criminals across the Atlantic, Blair shamelessly defends the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
The 2003 invasion killed at least 150,000 Iraqi civilians, and destroyed a sovereign country. There is virtually no Iraq today. Three mutually hostile ethno-religious groups – Shiite and Sunni Arabs, and Sunni Kurds – practically run three quasi-independent entities, carved out of what was once Iraq up to March 2003. Thanks to the attempted overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad by the West and its Arab and Zionist partners, Syria is also divided today among feuding groups of Shiite and Sunni Arabs, Sunni Kurds and others. Meanwhile, the artificial lines drawn across the sands of the Levant (Syria-Iraq) by the Anglo-French imperialists in 1919 are fast disappearing.
One may demolish Blair's so-called “apology” as insincere, defensive, and uncalled for as there are incontrovertible evidences to prove that the 2003 invasion of Iraq wasn't due to any “wrong intelligence” on Saddam Hussein's so-called stash of chemical and biological weapons. The CIA didn't mislead anybody. While the 1991 invasion of Iraq under Bush Senior was a well-planned, premeditated act to circumscribe Saddam Hussein's power, the 2003 invasion under Bush Junior was aimed at overthrowing the Iraqi dictator, and destroying Iraq, completely; among other reasons, for the sake of Israeli, Saudi and Kuwaiti security concerns.
Instead of feigning an apology, Blair should prepare himself to answer the following questions: Why doesn't the West even think of changing other autocratic and illegitimate regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere across the globe? Why did America, Britain and their allies overthrow several popular governments in the world during the last 70 years? Why on earth is the West hell-bent on destroying one Muslim-majority country after another a la Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria? Did Blair know about the American plan to invade Iraq and six other Muslim-majority countries in five years, which Pentagon designed days after the 9/11 attacks?
As General Wesley Clark (ret) reveals, ten days after 9/11 he went to the Pentagon where one U.S. general told him: “We've made the decision we're going to war with Iraq”. On Clark's asking the question if Washington had found any information about Saddam's links with al Qaeda, he was told: “There is nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq …. I guess it's like we don't know what to do about terrorists, but we've got a good military and we can take down governments”. The same general told Wesley Clark in late September 2001 about Washington's decision to invade seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finally, Iran.
Interestingly, Blair has not mentioned for once – as Bush and his associates would do the same – that on March 21, 2003 the Anglo-Americans invaded Iraq without waiting to hear the last word from the UN Weapons Inspectors in Iraq, who had been investigating if Saddam Hussein had piles of chemical and biological weapons; and if Iraqi missiles had the capability of hitting London in “45 minutes”, to paraphrase Tony Blair. So much for CIA's “faulty intelligence” on Saddam Hussein's non-existing Weapons of Mass Destruction!
What Tony Blair has not mentioned – and Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld would never admit –President Eisenhower revealed in his farewell speech on January 17th, 1961. Eisenhower singled out the Military-Industrial Complex as the single-most important factor behind all major wars initiated by the U.S. in the 20th century. This is equally true about most major wars Britain has initiated since the 1750s. Britain (and America) staged a coup in Iran after Mosaddeq had nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1953 (BP since 1954); and in 1956, Britain and France (and also Israel) invaded Egypt after Nasser had nationalized the Suez Canal.
While containing communism was the main excuse for the West to invade countries to the right and left during the Cold War; defeating Islamist terrorist groups and restoring democracy in the Muslim World have been the new justifications for Western invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria since the end of the Cold War. What Paul Craig Roberts (Reagan's Assistant Secretary of Treasury) believes America invades various countries for, is also applicable to Britain: “Washington's empire extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business and the Israel Lobby…”
What is evidently cynical and self-gratifying in the so-called apology are in defence of the West's periodic invasions of countries in the Third World since the end of World War II. Blair's blaming the so-called “faulty intelligence” for the 2003 Iraq invasion is not only a flimsy fig leaf, ominously, it is also an attempt to defend the ongoing Western involvement in Syria in the name of saving innocent lives from Assad's military. Amazingly, smart and intelligent Tony Blair undermines people's intelligence and assumes they suffer from some collective amnesia! It's time the world tries all war criminals, including Tony Blair and his patrons across the Atlantic.