Crusader Blair’s Vision: Eternal War

Iran and Syria Next? Part 2

The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882

It is always instructive to re-visit Blair-world (when the blood pressure can take it) hindsight, as ever, always illuminating.

His seemingly delusional media-fest in the run up to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, commemorated as apparently the only terrible tragedy ever to afflict a nation anywhere on earth, included his apocalyptic certainty that:

The threat to our way of life, the values we hold and our peace and prosperity remains … it will take a generation to change hearts and minds and make the fanatics an irrelevance.

The decade old re-run sounded no less scarily megalomaniacal than it did something very similar that was delivered by his pal, US President and fellow evangelical fundamentalist, George W. Bush, in 2001.

In January last year, the now “Middle East Peace Envoy”, was “smuggled in and out of the Chilcot Inquiry” on Iraq, a country now largely ruined, mired in violence and turmoil, whose mass graves since 2003, embrace up to one-and-a-half million of the invasion’s victims.

Between furtive sneakings in and out, Blair declared that creating Iraq’s massacre mounds and rivers of blood was the “right decision.”

He had “responsibility but not regret for removing Saddam Hussein …I believe he threatened not just the region, but the world.” Somewhat at odds with a regime which was proved to have no meaningful weapons, nil long range anything, and whose neighbours said repeatedly, prior to the invasion, Iraq posed them no threat. Indeed, the then CIA Director, George Tenet, testified before the US Congress firmly endorsing the same view seven months before 9/11.

Further, “Saddam had a history of killing millions of his own people and regularly breached UN Resolutions”, said the man who, between invasion and his collusion in continuing the embargo, and a decade of US/UK bombing, may carry a weighty share of responsibility for perhaps three million Iraqi deaths, none of which quite complied with the UN’s fine, founding stated ideals.

The woeful mass graves from Saddam’s era are, of course, mainly from the Iran-Iraq war’s chilling toll, the West backing Iraq, making profits of particular obscenity by arming both sides. Then the 32 nation US-led, onslaught after the 1991 Kuwait invasion for which the US Ambassador to Iraq gave the green light.

The Iraqi people had to be saved from Iraq’s terrible weapons, Blair asserted, omitting that they were found not to exist. Perhaps he still has fantasy friends too.

No mention that they were “saved” by real, not imaginary, weapons of mass destruction: depleted uranium, white phosphorous, bunker busters, napalm, cluster bombs and munitions, with many, as yet unconfirmed reports that conventional nuclear weapons may also have been used.

The former Iraqi regime, of course, accounted its for its unheld weapons in the massive 12,800 page Report to the UN in December 2002. Successive Israeli governments have never admitted to having, allegedly, the world’s fifth largest nuclear arsenal, and have seemingly ignored 66 UN Resolutions. A government which hosts Blair on an ongoing basis, about whose pretty spectacular legal shortcomings he is apparently supremely unconcerned.

Similar pressure as on Iraq, should now be placed on Iran, he told the Inquiry – who also deny having nuclear weapons and has allowed UN Inspectors unfettered access.

In another delusional or amnesic moment, he said a deadly threat had been Iraq’s looming nuclear arms race with Iran. Iraq and Iran had, in fact, been edging cautiously towards conciliation for some years before the invasion.

In context, in April 2003, the New York Times’ Judith Miller, an invasion enthusiast second to few, seemingly thinking she had found evidence of atrocities in Basra, with nearly five hundred coffins neatly piled in a warehouse, had to report that the leader of the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division’s task force, Chief Warrant Officer Dan Walters, stated that from extensive documents, Iraqis had apparently been processing the remains and preparing to exchange them with Iran.

“Their wounds were consistent with combat deaths, not executions,” said Mr Walters.  “So far,” he added, “there are no indications that war crimes were committed here.”  No doubt quite a blow to Ms Miller.

The careful diplomacy between Iraq and Iran was also ironically strengthened by the Clinton doctrine of “dual containment” bringing them closer together against further external threats. Blair, however, insisted on the looming threat of a nuclear arms race with Iran had Saddam remained. The matter of legality, apparently, was a far away place of which nothing was known.

He told the Inquiry he agreed to military action with George W. Bush immediately after 9/11. Further: “I never regarded September 11th as an attack on America, I regarded it as an attack on us.” What did he have for breakfast?

He reaffirmed his commitment to the attack on Iraq at George Bush’s ranch in April 2002, believing “beyond doubt” the claims in the now notorious fiction in the long discredited dossier of September 2002.

Before his appearance at the Inquiry, he had given an interview with BBC where he was asked: “If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?” He replied: “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”

Apart from illegality of enormity, the attack on Iraq and Blair’s linkage of Iraq to September 11 must join history’s most extraordinary non-sequiturs. Perhaps imaginary friends advise him as well.

He and Bush had agreed, he continued, that Saddam Hussein had refused to comply with UN demands, which justified their action. Life would have been “a lot easier” with UN backing, of course, but as ever, he knew he was right.

When Sir Lawrence Freedman said that in January 2007 alone, excess Iraq deaths were 2,807,  “ … shocking figures and getting worse every year”, perhaps there was a moment of discomfort, but it was, “ … Al Qaeda and Iran that really caused this mission to very nearly fail.” Was there really no comprehension that “external elements”, he cited did not destabilize and murder in Iraq before the invasion? Iraq’s borders were near inviolate, the British and Americans threw them wide open to all comers.

The fault was further incredibly that they had not planned for the ” … absence of a functioning civil service infrastructure.”  Iraq, of course, had a rigidly efficient civil service, Germanic in its meticulousness. The invasion’s forces comprehensively destroyed, or stole and shipped, all records, from every Ministry. The US “Viceroy” Bremer fired all civil servants – along with police force, and every beaurocratic arm needed to keep a State functioning.

As with Pol Pot in Cambodia, a “year zero” was created at every level in Iraq.  Even aspects of the woeful death tolls are not dissimilar: the 22 year Pol Pot regime, lower estimate 1,700,000; the eight year Iraq invasion and occupation, upper estimate 1,500,000.

Peace Envoy Blair was, he said, shocked by pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib.  Conscience, humanity at last? No chance. Because they were a: “propaganda victory” for the enemy.

Over the years, many medical professionals have pondered on Tony Blair’s psychological profile. A recent one has been Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In addition to a belief in being superior to others, some indications are:

• Self centered and boastful
• Seeks constant attention and admiration
• Exaggerates talents and achievements
• Might take advantage of others to achieve goals
• Expectation that others will go along with what she or he wants
• Inability to recognize or identify the feelings or needs of others
• Arrogant behaviour or attitude

For all the professional analysis of what strange force drives Charles Anthony Lyndon Blair the most apt one for this writer is still that of the old priest at Iraq’s ancient St Mathew’s Monastry – the Lourdes of the Middle East – on Mount Maqloub, above the plains of Nineveh in northern Iraq.

Pre-invasion, he talked of the plight of the villagers below, as we stood, looking down over the tiny villages on the great plains. Sanctions had decimated their pastoral existence; families, their sheep, goats, children shepherding were routinely killed by British and American planes, patrolling yesterday’s “humanitarian no-fly zone.”

“Every day”, he said, “there are new widows, new widowers, new orphans, lost children. Please, when you go home, tell your Mr Tony Blair, he is a very, very, bad man.”

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.