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Tony Blair Refuses to Repent: The Man Who Helped Destroy Iraq is Licking His Lips At Intervening in Syria

The architect of Britain's most disastrous intervention in recent history is issuing a call to arms in Syria.

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The problem is that Blair’s views do still seem to count. One politician visiting the US State department last year came away stunned at the high regard Blair was held in. He has close access we learn to David Cameron. Blair remains the Quartet Representative for as long as in his words he “remains useful”(it is not clear who would take a decision to dispense with his services).

Given that one cannot ignore him, his position on Iraq and other conflicts matters. In his Newsnight interview, Blair continued to adopt the ‘what if we had not got rid of him defence’. This is a clever political device because it is impossible to disprove. How can we know what Iraq would have been like if Saddam had remained in power? However, it does not in any way excuse him of his failings.

These arguments over Iraq may be tiresome to many but are still hugely relevant because we still have yet to learn the lessons from that catastrophe. It is not sufficient to try to justify the Iraq war just because Saddam Hussein was evil. There has to be a coherent strategy to improve the situation in Iraq. Our entire record on Iraq from 1979 until today has been disastrous. We armed Saddam despite his brutal record. We turned a blind eye to his chemical weapons use and genocide. We imposed brutal sweeping sanctions, which killed hundreds of thousands of ordinary Iraqis whilst strengthening the regime, and topped it off by prosecuting a war and occupation in a manner that was ill conceived and poorly executed. Blair’s failure to acknowledge this and his role in the failure is worrying given his continued influence.

Evidence would suggest we are still capable of making all the same mistakes. Today, western states still impose sweeping sanctions on various states, which hurt ordinary people. We still arm and prop up repressive regimes, many of whom employ Blair. We still have no successful mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution. Our record on state building and reconciliation leave much to be desired. All this has had a huge impact on how we deal with the current conflict in Syria and the looming crisis with Iran.

Whatever one's views on Syria and what the international community should do, the last thing that Syrians need is a call to arms from Tony Blair. This is what he is now threatening to do. In fact, for those who believe that a western military intervention is required to end the crisis, silence from Blair would be helpful. Should anyone take advice from the architect of the most disastrous intervention in recent British history?

Once again Blair is presenting the case for intervention in Syria and Iran as a case of good versus evil. Once again he glazes over the hugely complicated issues of what an intervention and aftermath entail. It is never enough to call for intervention – that is easy to do, not least when you are out of office. You have to present a coherent strategy to transform the situation and end the crisis. You have to demonstrate that intervention will not make matters worse. Blair did not do that on Iraq ten years ago. He is not doing it again with Syria and Iran today. Blair is right that inaction will have devastating consequences. Yet action does not always have to be bombs and bullets. Syria deserves the well thought political strategy Iraq and Iraqis never got.

Chris Doyle is the director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU).

 
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