Monday, 3 June 2013

Tony Blair, The Neoconservatives and What is at Stake in Syria.

Tony Blair is trying to retrospectively justify his disastrous foreign policies as regards the Middle East of which the conflict in Syria is, in many ways, a delayed consequence. The return of sectarian violence in Iraq parallels that of the continued disintegration of the Syrian state.

The decision of William Hague to advocate arming the sunni insurgents and fundamentalists is in continuity with the shoddy realpolitik behind the decision to invade Iraq in order to control the world's second largest supply of oil for 'the West' and counter Chinese inroads into the Middle East.

Given that sectarian warfare between Shia and Sunni Iraqis broke out as the state collapsed led the US and UK to tacitly allow Shia 'ethnic cleansing', as a means to defeat the Sunni groups who had dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria shows a different predominance.

The Sunni insurgents are now fighting an Allawite regime supported not merely by Iran and Hizbollah but also by Iraq's Shia regime in Baghdad under al-Maliki So Hague is itching to tilt the balance of power back towards the Sunnis in Syria.

Blair writes a mendacious piece of propaganda which presents untruths, distorts the fact or omits them. Though not in office now, Blair's spin and duplicity has been continued by Hague who is also using the transnational 'terror threat' to back a policy of supplying arms to Sunni fundamentalists.

In accordance with Orwellian doublethink, the highly likely prospect of arms falling into the hands of anti-Western jihadists is denied, as it has been by Hague who is irresponsible enough to claim that he would have the power to ensure they did not fall into the 'wrong hands'.

Blair writes,
'...we are deluding ourselves if we believe that we can protect this country simply by what we do here. The ideology is out there. It isn’t diminishing.
Consider the Middle East. As of now, Syria is in a state of accelerating disintegration. President Assad is brutally pulverising communities hostile to his regime. At least 80,000 have died. The refugees now total more than one million. The internally displaced are more than four million.
The Syrian opposition is made up of many groups. The fighters are increasingly the Al Qaeda- affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra. They are winning support, and arms and money from outside the country'.
The way Blair cuts from the assertion that the terror threat to Britain is 'out there' and 'isn't diminishing' ( after all it would mean his 'war on terror' had failed to say it had 'increased' after Afghanistan and Iraq ) to 'consider the Middle East' is a standard piece of neoconservative propaganda.

Blair is now selling the line that because Assad will not go and is ready to embark on 'ethnic cleansing and 'chemical warfare', that , as a result, 'something must be done'. It is the same act with William Hague as there is no difference between Labour and the Conservatives on foreign policy.

Blair is trying to claim that by backing the 'right' sort of militias, that groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra who would profit from the chaos in Syria could be defeated. Yet the CIA and MI6 have been in Syria from the outset of the war funnelling arms and aid to the insurgents.

William Hague's effective decision to push for the West to support the 'rebels' i.e Sunni fundamentalist militias and insurgents, is clear now. Hague will make a decision and will do it with France to a point that will put pressure on the US to decide to fall in or do what it wanted to do anyway more quickly.
Our priority is to get the regime in Damascus and the opposition to the negotiating table in Geneva. A decision to deliver lethal weapons will depend on the course of these negotiations, as well as by the attitude of other countries. Because we will only supply weapons along with others, in accordance with international law and under carefully controlled conditions.
This tactic of threatening to arm some mythical 'the opposition' , as opposed to some insurgent groups who are opposed by others-one reason why the Syrian National Council cannot agree who is going to represent them at the Geneva Conference.

Hague is not so foolish that he cannot see that the negotiations are merely window dressing as Assad will never make any precondition about any transition being that he will first stand down. Hague knows that and so the Geneva Conference will be used as proof that Assad Must Go.

That was Hague's position all along and he is an ideological fanatic who has learnt nothing from the history of sectarian warfare in Iraq and wants to arm the Sunni insurgents as a policy of countering Iranian influence and Shia domination.

Hague's foreign policy can be aptly summarised by Lord David Howell's explanation in 2011 of the thinking behind British strategy in the Middle East. It is factual and taken from Hansard. It is surprising that the Guardian is not drawing attention to the facts that would help the public understand Hague's position 
'There is an eastern dimension to the whole of what is happening in the Middle East. Chinese influence and investment are everywhere. Chinese warships are in the Mediterranean for the first time in several hundred years. The influence of the rising powers of Asia on the Middle East is heavy and growing. Exports from the Middle East-we are looking immediately more at the oil-producing countries to the east of the region-are increasingly going to the east. Sixty-six per cent of all oil production from Saudi Arabia goes eastwards. A large proportion of China's fossil fuel imports come from this region. This cannot be brushed aside; it is a decisive element in the unfolding pattern of Middle East reform.
As far as we are concerned, there are some energy implications, to which we should not be blind. Egypt itself is not a major energy producer but it has some oil and quite a lot of gas, which it exports through the Arab peace pipeline to Jordan, Syria and Israel. Extraordinarily-perhaps this is often overlooked-Israel relies on Egypt for between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of its daily gas supplies. The continuation of that pipeline is an extremely important element in the situation. All over the region new gas pipelines are being developed, such as the so-called Islamic gas pipeline between Iran, Iraq and Syria. We have to understand that a new pattern of energy transportation and production is emerging in the area'.
One reason why Iraq was invaded was to control second largest supplies of the oil and gas in the world against Chinese inroads into the Middle East. The fear of a Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, a "so-called Islamic gas pipepiline" is contrasted with the "Arab peace pipeline" from Egypt to Israel.
Hague's decision to back the Syrian insurgents may seem insane but it has its basis in reacting to the need to protect Western oil and gas interests against the danger of growing Iranian influence. Not least given that a major ambition in the US and Britain is 'regime change' in Tehran.

This is the price to be paid for the US and UK being overdependent on the Middle East for oil as is alluded to by Howell himself when he states 'Exports from the Middle East-we are looking immediately more at the oil-producing countries to the east of the region-are increasingly going to the east'

For 'east of the Middle East' is first Iran then Afghanistan which acts as a transit country for the oil and gas of the Central Asian republics to south east Asia and away from predominant Russian control. Moreover, in Afghanistan the TAPI pipeline is a key part of blocking the rival IP alternative.

The job of journalists is to look at these interests and the stakes in the New Great Game for global domination through controlling supplies of oil and gas. It is of vital importance if the British public is to be informed and very likely important to the continued existence of civilisation itself.


A Note on Tony Blair

As Hague seems intent on arming the sunni fundamentalists in Syria, some have raised questions about whether he is sane or not. The same was said of Tony Blair who tended to take a lead in foreign policy decision whearas PM Camero, surely mindful of the impact of Iraq on Blair's popularity, has not.

The disturbing thing about Tony Blair is that he is not evil but certainly deluded and able to spin a case for anything once he had absolutely decided it was 'the right thing to do' . He was supposed to be a lawyer and he was certainly a bad ham actor.

In the Mail article he does show an element of being both throughly ignorant about the reality and nature of Al Qaida while brooding upon dark, almost metaphysical ponderings on the nature of their ideology and evil. Take this,
...we are deluding ourselves if we believe that we can protect this country simply by what we do here. The ideology is out there. It isn’t diminishing.
Evil is part of an 'ideology' that is 'out there'. Maybe really far out there for a mediocre politician who grew up in the comfortable post war generation and was wholly ignorant of what war means as most Conservative and Labour politicians were when he was growing up.

Blair is projecting when he claims Evil Is Out There like some sort of hideous cosmic force that could come right to your house, reminding me of a malign version of the Old National Lottery advert where a huge finger descended from the sky and pointed to a small lit up windom with phrase 'It Could be You'.

Blair is clearly a troubled man. Much of his 'post-political' career has been about lauding goodwill, trumpeting the good that can come if evil is destroyed by good religious people rejecting violence. The man is desperate to be accepted again. Hence The TonyBlairFaithFoundation.

Blair, I think, knows that he bears a terrible responsibility for what happened in Iraq. Everything he has done or written since is more about trying to explain or get people to empathise with him because he knows he made an appalling decision.

It is up to him to live with that until he dies.


Hague can be compared with Blair because they represent a continuity in foreign policy aims and goals. The means to affect the policy of 'regime change' as if this can be imposed to order by Britain and other Western states remain 'humanitarian intervention'  Hague suffers from the same delusions as Blair in that sense.

Blair was not lying over Iraq but was able to make a case for war after having convinced himself that the messianic dream of imposing 'regime change' across the Middle East was a more likely outcome than the removal of Saddam creating sectarian conflicts.

Hague is not lying either for both he and Blair are interested in what they consider the 'higher truth' . In Blair's case a project of global democratic revolution. In Hague's case it is to roll back Iranian influence by decisive interventions to get rid of dictators.

That means not telling the public or explaining what those strategic ambitions and interests are, while being prepared to commit Britain to materially supporting the Sunni insurgents andbeing willing to risk putting them into the hands of violent jihadists.

There is no benefit to Hague in trying to explain such complexities to the British public and confusing them with that when a simplistic narrative that we are supporting the good rebel forces against evil Assad without commiting ground troops is the official line.

The problem is that William Hague is not William Pitt and this is just not the eighteenth century. In mass democracies the line has to be promoted, through what it termed 'Public Diplomacy', that our interests are enlightened and good and Assad's and Iran's are evil.

The problem is that it is more complicated than that, Saudi Arabia is pouring arms and cash into Syria to support the insurgents and started to do so from the outset. That was before Hizbollah started to enter the sectarian war on Assad's side.

Britain and the US are overdependent upon Saudi oil still while desperately trying to diversify their oil supplies with Chinese competition strong now in the Middle East as regards the divvying up of the oil concessions ( especially in Iraq ).

Ironically, the war in Iraq actually promoted that. The only way the US and UK could withdraw from Iraq was to allow the Shia to defeat and crush the Sunni insurgents. The price of that has been an authoritarian semi-democracy under Maliki that favours Iran and China.

One opponent who claimed Blair was wrong but Hague is right claimed,
Blair not only has the blood of Iraq on his hands, but he has the blood of the Syrian people too, because his actions mean intervention against any future tyrant is incredibly difficult, regardless of how brutal that dictator is acting. One need only look at Assad's actions to know that.
Well, Blair had the full backing of the Conservative Party in invading Iraq. Hague supported the invasion of Iraq wholeheartedly despite the fact it was a bad idea. The reason was quite simply that it made sense to those who thought it would bring about strategic benefits.

This is precisely why it needs to be pointed out that the strategy of arming sunni insurgents with fundamentalist ideas and, quite possibly, Al Qaida, simply in order to thwart the threat od Shia dominance is a consequence of Iraq.
William Hague is just trying to do the best thing for the Syrian people themselves, which is incredibly hard with the full propaganda forces of Assad, and Russia, and Iran fighting for their own selfish self interests, against him and the Syrian people
There is no such thing as 'the Syrian people'. The country was an artificial nation state since it was carved out of the Ottoman Empire after it collapsed under the impact of the Great War. It is fragmenting into sectarian violence that most Syrians did not want. 
Hague is prepared to increase the scale of the violence by arming the Sunni insurgents. All humanitarian aid agencies on the ground in Syria object to that but like a man possessed Hague presses on and on with this course regardless.

If you were so concerned with the condition of Syrian civilians instead of using political cant phrases such as 'the Syrian people' beloved of demagogues, populists, spin doctors and dictators, then it might be realised that Hague's foreign policy is not about them.

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