Sep 2, 2010


"I can't regret the decision to go to war. I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded, and that too is part of the responsibility. The truth is we did not anticipate the role of al-Qaida* or Iran. Whether we should have is another matter; and if we had anticipated, what we would have done about it is another matter again." — Tony Blair, A Journey
That's the problem with wars, I guess. So gosh darned unpredictable! They never go the way you expect. Not like birthdays in that regard. Or TV shows. Or tea time. No. Always haring off in some infernal direction that nobody would ever guess in a million years! All you can really do is get them off to a good start, really. A nice kick-off to festivities and crossed fingers and that's it really. Just like kids. You can pack their lunch, ruffle their hair and wave them off at the station, but after that — forget it! Who knows what they get up to! Little bleeders. Bless.

* Note how casually he unravels the lie of American involvement. Al Qaeda were so not on the British radar as a reason for going into Iraq that Blair comfortably classes it as one of the things he might reasonably not be asked to even anticipate. America's foremost casus belli was, for the Brits, not even the remotest of wild cards. One senses two propaganda machines in hopeless disunity.


  1. Tony Blair's comments about Al Qaeda refer to the organisation's efforts to destabilise the country after the invasion, not its supposed presence in Iraq pre 2003.

    Although the overthrow of the Baathist regime was solely down to the efforts of the American-led alliance, the strategic defeat inflicted upon Al Qaeda in 2008 was as much to do as the understandble repugnance felt by most Iraqis, whether Sunni, Shia or Kurd, at the indiscriminate carnage and cruelty inflicted on the local population by the terrorists and their financial and logistical supporters in Damascus.

    Its just a shame that Bush wasn't in power long enough to bring in a trio of successes by overthrowing the theocratic totalitarians in Tehran. Hopefully, the Israelis can make a start on that next year.

  2. Right but it goes without saying that if Blair believed that Al Qaeda was in Iraq before the invasion, he would have had them factored in as a threat. He didn't even pencil them in as a remote possibility. Ergo, even he didn't believe Bush.

  3. Well, he doesn't mention WMD in that quote either (though he may have outside the quote marks; I've no idea). The most interesting question is, I think, once the coalition removed Saddam, to what extent were the Westerners responsible for not adequately policing the sectarian violence, versus the cause of the violence being, er, sectarianism?

    "How true it is that religion poisons everything." - Christopher Hitchens

  4. I don't think anyone foresaw just how much Al Qaeda would throw into the fight for Iraq. Not just the thousands of foot soldiers that were infiltrated through the rat runs originating in Syria, but the vast amount of money expended during the conflict.

    There's no doubt that Saddam Hussein had very little, if anything, to do with the organisation pre-9/11, but once the Taliban had been toppled from power in Afghanistan, it was certainly true that Zarqawi, the Jordanian who set up the Al Qaeda franchise in Iraq, found refuge in the Baathist state.

    The bottom line is that the US and UK had been in conflict with Iraq since 1991 and fearful that the regime's main debtors/arms suppliers - Russia, China and France - were about to pull the plug on sanctions, they decided to finish the job.