Blair: What the middle east needs is more blood and chaos

11 09 2011

The front page of The Times newspaper in Britain this week featured an interview with Tony Blair who again called for effort to be put behind regime change in Iran. This has been a long running narrative for the former Prime Minister who is part of an established political school of thought in the west that believes much of the trouble in that part of the world originates in Tehran.

It’s a simplistic world view for a man who was famously uninterested in the complexities of issues he faced in office. Civil servants who worked under Blair later said that Tony would be highly enthusiastic for the big idea, but when they tried to discuss detail with him his eyes would glaze over.

This sums up how a politician like Blair comes to believe in bogeymen. He is happiest when you can boil a narrative like the modern middle east down to goodies and baddies. Some baddies come and go but the overarching baddie has always been Iran, mostly because it has dared to defy western foreign policy for so long.

So Blair and The Times, not convinced we heard it the first, second or third time (or even at the Chilcot Iraq inquiry, where Blair managed to wander off on a tangent to pontificate on the wrong subject) set about telling us how evil the Iranians are. When they are not supporting terrorism they are building a nuclear bomb. Tony says Afghanistan and Iraq would be a peaceful as Norfolk if it were not for those meddling mullahs.

The hypocrisy is mind boggling, although this is Blair of course. Western military and intelligence agencies have an absolute right to choose sides in these countries respective civil wars but neighbouring Iran does not. Of course nobody should be interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations but Blair’s insistence to the contrary is straight from the imperialism of the Victorian British empire.

Iran also must be stopped from building a bomb but this is about as far as Blair complex point goes. No mention that Iran is a nation surrounded by nuclear armed neighbours with Israel to the west, Russia to its north and that byword for instability, Pakistan to its east. The fact that Iran has not invaded another country for over 300 years also has no significance for Tony.

Why are the rantings of a bored, overpaid and disgraced former politician worth commenting on then? The answer to this lies in the fact that Blair’s idea of “liberal interventionism” is alive and well.

Iraq gave this idea a bad name through the lies, blood and chaos surrounding that country over the last decade. Libya now provides an example where the west “got it right”. This will be the overwhelming narrative for the political establishment and the media when the next big adventure presents itself.

The relatively swift victory of the Libyan rebels against Colonel Gadaffi gave the
‘liberal interventionists’ a success story, to be expoited at a later date.

It is a dangerous idea as it seeks to convince us that the problem with Iraq was not the outright lies or the criminal aggression against another nation. It was more a question of strategy. The next time politicians wish to get all macho with their generals a few points will be observed.

First get the UN on board, even if it is just to agree that the biscuit supplies of said nation must be protected. Once you have this you can do whatever you like biscuit related or not.

Only use air power and then insist there will be no “boots on the ground”, then deploy those boots on the ground and call them “advisors”, then hope the media buy it, which they probably will.

Finally, jump into bed with those elements on the side you chose in the civil war and make sure any previous western business related deals are kept. If the nation is a major oil producer then oil deals, but if the western powers intervene in a nation whose most significant export is asparagus, then of course vegetable export deals.

Its not that meddling in the affairs of independent nations is wrong, its just a question of perception. Libya was easy, they may start to believe that Iran could also be done with such minimal effort. There will be blood, but then again they are unlikely to get any on their suits when directing the war from a press conference in London.