Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Blair: Energy Geopolitics and the Global Struggle with 'Islamist Extremism'.

Blair's speech on the need to combat 'Islamist extremism' on a global scale is both deluded and dangerous. For a start, Islamism is a broad political trend. By adding the flexible word 'extremism' as a means to differentiate which Islamists are acceptible ( or not extreme ) is a formula for open ended conflict.

Far from Blair being an irrelevance in this sense, the former Prime Minister is advocating a foreign policy that many are in fact pursuing at present but with a more robust attitude. As with anything Blair proclaims, the aim is to safeguard his legacy and to make out that he was right all along about the need for a 'Global War on Terror'.

In order to do that Blair empahasises the need for correct propaganda and framing of the global conflict, one quite obviously about western access to resources such as oil and gas from the Middle East and Africa. Thereby, opinion can be mobilised on the basis of a moral cause and purpose instead of being seen as ruthless realpolitik.
"The important point for western opinion is that this is a struggle with two sides. So when we look at the Middle East and beyond it to Pakistan or Iran and elsewhere, it isn't just a vast unfathomable mess with no end in sight and no one worthy of our support. It is in fact a struggle in which our own strategic interests are intimately involved; where there are indeed people we should support and who, ironically, are probably in the majority if only that majority were mobilised, organised and helped.
Amidst the evident absurdity ( a struggle by definition involves two sides and not one, though it may involve more than two ), Blair is agitating for western intervention ( i.e meddling ) in the affairs of all states where Islamism is a force to try and impose the right ( that is to say pro-western ) government in power.

There is an Orwellian doublethink inherent in a strategy which means supporting Qatari and Saudi Arabian use of Islamist jihadists in Syria to fight Assad but backing the Egyptian military against the Muslim Brotherhood, even when it carries out a coup and guns down protesters in the streets of Cairo.

The reason why that freedom to define Islamists as 'extremists' or not is important for Blair is clear; those Islamist militants who threaten western oil and gas interests across the globe ( Algeria, Somalia, Yemen, Egypt ) are 'extremists' who pose a danger to energy security.

However, those Islamists in lands such as Syria who are used as proxies to remove leaders such as Assad who leans towards Russia and Iran are not 'extremists'. No, the jihadists in Syria are part of a battle for freedom. Not least, the pipeline interests Qatar and Turkey have for a Syria without Assad.

This is what is meant when Blair opines,
'what is absolutely necessary is that we first liberate ourselves from our own attitude. We have to take sides. We have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us at any one time. We have to have an approach to the region that is coherent and sees it as a whole. And above all, we have to commit. We have to engage".
Whether British people like it or not, Blair still represents the way global politics is heading ( at least as far as British politicians are concerned ). Spouting 'warmonger' or 'Bliar' is both boring and doltish. The need is to understand what Blair means and what interests are truly at stake.

For the fact is that Blair joined the 2003 invasion of Iraq as part of a geopolitical move to control it's large oil reserves in the period before shale oil and gas had become big business in the US and energy independence a goal. Put bluntly, unless alternatives to oil and gas are found, western intervention in the Middle East is set to go on.

Blair, after all, makes energy security the first and foremost of his reason to 'engage' with the Middle East, as,
'it is still where a large part of the world’s energy supplies are generated, and whatever the long term implications of the USA energy revolution, the world’s dependence on the Middle East is not going to disappear any time soon. In any event, it has a determining effect on the price of oil; and thus on the stability and working of the global economy.'
While Blair can be criticised for Iraq, it's no use turning him into a hate figure as though British people could pretend their high octane consumer lifestyles where somehow disconnected with the need for stable and falling oil prices. That's a lesson Blair learned after the road haulier's strike of 2000 over petrol prices threatened his government

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