“I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong".Tony Blair has long ceased to try and convince global opinion about whether the Iraq War was one of history's Good Things. The consequences of the 2003 invasion have been so catastrophic, the equivalent of a having detonated a geopolitical earthquake across the Greater Middle East, that they are undeniable.
Blair has instead taken upon himself the ham act of posing as the grave statesman entrusted with having had to make a terrible decision, one where the consequences of not acting would have been as potentially disastrous as his actual decision in light of the defective intelligence criticised in a new CNN interview.
Of course, as Blair wants to be judged in the ligh of posterity for this decision , the timing of his interview with Zakaria is about putting a positive spin on his actions. Of course, as historian Michael Burleigh points out 'he had committed Britain to war in Iraq at least a month before he met Bush at his ranch in Texas in April 2002'.
'Blair was privately committed to war, which belied his public position that he was going down the diplomatic route to try to avoid it, with the efforts of UN inspectors under Hans Blix to neutralise the supposed ‘weapons of mass destruction’ threat from Saddam. The fact is – as we have subsequently learnt – that those ‘weapons of mass destruction did not exist.Blair’s ingrained ability for media manipulation was also praised in the Powell memo. The Secretary of State told Bush that the British Prime Minister would ‘present to you the strategic, tactical and public affairs lines that he believes will strengthen global support for our common cause’. Close examination of Blair’s supposed mea culpa to CNN shows that, essentially, he is only ‘apologising’ for the mistakes of others.'
Blair opines “We have stood back and we, in the west, bear responsibility for this – Europe most of all. We’ve done nothing. That’s a judgment of history I’m prepared to have.” Blair is trying to shift moral responsibility for his fateful decision on to others who have succeeded him and made 'his legacy' worse.
Blair's 'vision' of what went wrong in Syria and Iraq is fiction. The Western Powers have not 'done nothing'. Cameron has pursued a Blairite approach to Syria in demanding 'Assad must go', just as Saddam had to go, through aligning with Sunni jihadist forces against Assad despite evidence they were not "moderates".
The opprobrium heaped upon Blair for Iraq is justified but much of it from his political opponents in Parliament deeply hypocritical as most supported the Iraq War. They have continied to pursue policies firmly in the neo-Cold War style of Blair in the Greater Middle East-wars of 'liberation' against evil dictators.
This form of messianic liberal geopolitics was based on wish thinking and an ignorance of the complicated history of the region, one where the gains of 1989 in Central Eastern Europe would roll next across the Middle East with military force being used as the midwife of a new liberal democratic order.
The consequence has been to trigger off a Saudi-Iranian proxy war from Syria to Yemen and Iraq that could end up destabilising Saudi Arabia itself as it gets dragged in to the Yemeni quagmire. This was the nightmare scenario Bush and Blair had wished to offset by the securing of Iraqi oil back in 2003.