Which brings us to Tony Blair. All that goodwill that hastened his rise to power, and an emphatic re-election four years later, sprayed up the wall on the false prospectus that was the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Yes, he was returned to Downing Street a third time, but mainly through continued mistrust of the Tories - who also backed the Iraq campaign - and a split vote as the Lib Dems ate into the Tory vote and kept The Blue Team out.
The result is that when Blair talks sense, as he has done more often than not - credit where credit’s due - on domestic, European and world affairs, he is disregarded by many on the left, while not gaining any ground with the right (falling out with Rupe, eh Tone? Bad move). And when, to use the South African vernacular, he ceases to talk turkey, but talks crap instead, the only way he gains attention is through a chorus of condemnation.
Which brings us to Tone’s talk to the Royal United Services Institute this morning, also attended by Paul Waugh of the HuffPo, who has told “Tony Blair has warned that the West should prepare for a new bioweapons threat posed by Islamist terrorists in the wake of the Covid pandemic …the former prime minister said that the idea of deadly pathogens being deployed by extremists is no longer ‘science fiction’”. WMD, anyone? But do go on.
“And in a riposte to US president Joe Biden’s chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan, Blair warned that at some point Western ‘boots on the ground’ may again be needed to help countries overseas tackle terrorists on their soil”. Biden’s predecessor decided to get out of Afghanistan. Biden was always against continuing that campaign. And the US people aren’t interested. Without the USA, that is a non-starter, and Blair knows it.
But back to the new WMDs. “Covid 19 has taught us about deadly pathogens. Bio-terror possibilities may seem like the realm of science fiction. But we would be wise now to prepare for their potential use by non State actors … Islamism, both the ideology and the violence, is a first order security threat; and, unchecked, it will come to us, even if centred far from us, as 9/11 demonstrated”. Oh yeah? And where might that originate, then?
“This ideology - whether Shia, promulgated by the Islamic Republic of Iran or Sunni promoted by groups on a spectrum from the Muslim Brotherhood through to AQ, ISIS Boko Haram and many others - has been the principal cause of de-stabilisation across the Middle East, and beyond and today in Africa”. Hasn’t he missed someone here?
The majority of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, and if you were to select one country that practises strict, even militant, Islam, that would be it. But Saudi Arabia buys weapons from us. It’s got a lot of oil. So, despite its export of terrorism, brutalisation of its own people, and subjugation of women, we are invited to Look Over There.
This will not do. Tony Blair could have set out some kind of vision; instead, he showed that he hasn’t moved on from 2003. He brings us no credible solutions. No change there, then.
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