The gravest threat to stability in the Middle East? Not radical Islam
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. He wrote a memoir of the five years he spent in Hollywood, where he worked in the movie industry prior to becoming a full time and activist and organizer with the US antiwar movement post-9/11. The book is titled Dreams That Die and is published by Zero Books. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
The setting was the European headquarters of Bloomberg – the US business and financial news information conglomerate – and the topic of his speech was the Middle East, specifically the emerging threat posed by the growth of radical Islam across the region.
The former Prime Minister, and key architect of the war on Iraq in 2003, claimed in his speech that “The threat of this radical Islam is not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world. It is destabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation. And in the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effectively."
In the very same speech, however, Blair reveals that cognitive dissonance is a psychological condition common to Western ideologues such as himself. He said: “We call for the regime to change in Syria, we encourage the opposition to rise up, but then when Iran activates Hezbollah on the side of Assad, we refrain even from air intervention to give the opposition a chance.”
The opposition Blair refers to in Syria is primarily made up of the very radical Islamists he describes as the greatest threat to the Middle East and, by extension, the world. He can’t have it both ways. He can’t be against radical Islam on the one hand, yet call for those governments and peoples that are engaged in a life and death struggle against radical Islam to be defeated on the other.
But Tony Blair also has to answer for his own role in radicalising Muslims. Not only did the wars he advocated and participated in as UK Prime Minister result in chaos and carnage on a biblical scale in the Arab and Muslim worlds, they have led directly to the proliferation of the regressive ideology he now sees fit to rail against. The war in Iraq left the country devastated and has led inexorably to a society polarised along sectarian lines, with extreme violence a daily occurrence over a decade on. Blair’s role in the continuing controversy over the legality of the war has seen his political credibility torn to shreds, with repeated calls for him to face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague following him wherever he goes.
Yet rather than demonstrate any regret over his role in the disaster of Iraq, it has reached the stage where no drumbeat to war would be complete without the former prime minister banging the loudest. This was confirmed by his response to the vote taken by Parliament in the UK to exclude Britain from any military action against Syria in 2013. Like that embarrassing uncle who ruins every family social gathering with his propensity for saying and doing the most outrageous things, offending everyone in the process, up popped the former prime minister in an interview with the BBC lamenting Britain's historic break from Washington's coattails on the matter of military intervention for the first time in a generation.
For a man who has made a career, both in and out of British politics, as a proponent of might is right, this was tantamount to sacrilege. And for someone imbued with the belief that Britain's influence in the world is in direct proportion to its willingness to hurl cruise missiles at wherever Washington wants them hurled, it marked nothing less than the nation's ruin.
At least Blair admitted in the BBC interview that the decision taken by the UK Parliament – an institution he treated with such naked contempt whilst Prime Minister - on Syria was heavily influenced by Iraq, the foreign policy disaster which he co-authored and pushed through with George W Bush.
You might think that even the hint of a lesson from this disaster may have been learned. But, no, the former prime minister’s only regret was over how it had made Britain "hesitant" to repeat it with regard to Syria.
This to be sure reveals the skewed outlook of a man so occluded from reality in the rarefied world of private jets, corporate boardrooms, and luxury homes and hotel suites he now inhabits, he no longer knows his political arse from his elbow. Not that he ever did, of course, but when prime minister he at least tried to give the impression that his feet were situated somewhere in the vicinity of Planet Earth.
For let us be under no illusion what the proposed military intervention in Syria would have involved. It would have involved the West entering into a de facto military alliance with – wait for it – radical Islam, given that various radical Islamist armed groups were by then dominating the opposition forces fighting in Syria.
Moreover, the justification for this proposed military action against the Syrian government at the time - i.e. humanitarian intervention bypassing the UN - would have constituted a breach of international law. No provision exists within the Fourth Geneva Convention for one state or any constellation of states to take aggressive military action on this basis. ‘Humanitarian Intervention’, it should be noted, is a concept out of the Tony Blair handbook. It was first rolled out to justify NATO’s 1999 air war against the Serbian people in the former Yugoslavia.
In truth the gravest threat to stability in the Middle East and the world in general is not radical Islam but the Tony Blairs of this world: men who practice statecraft like gangsters, dividing up and policing their territories, smashing every obstacle in their way, interested only in power, wealth, and status. The legacy of Tony Blair is written in the blood of the untold thousands of men, women, and children slaughtered as a direct result of his messianic thirst for Western domination and hegemony.
Rather than giving speeches to handpicked audiences of the rich, justice demands that Tony Blair be forced to account for his crimes in the dock at the International Criminal Court.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.