Is Tony Blair Right About Iraq?

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Tony Blair's Keynote Speech On The Middle East and North Africa

Tony Blair is more hated in the UK than George W. Bush is in the US. That may because European leftists have more spleen and longer memories. It’s also because Blair was Labour and he moved it away from some of the usual cheap class warfare.

That, and not Iraq, is why the British left really hates him.

I am not a fan of Tony Blair. I’ve written some harsh things about him in the past, but the hysteria over his Iraq War comments in the UK is positively demented. Including a move to impeach a man who has long been out of office for pointing out that the region would be in turmoil even if Saddam Hussein hadn’t been removed.

“Even if you’d left Saddam in place in 2003, then when 2011 happened – and you had the Arab revolutions going through Tunisia and Libya and Yemen and Bahrain and Egypt and Syria – you would have still had a major problem in Iraq.

“Indeed, you can see what happens when you leave the dictator in place, as has happened with Assad now. The problems don’t go away,” he said.

The left finds it more comfortable to treat the current violence in Iraq as stemming from the war rather than the Arab Spring, but that is both deceptive and dishonest.

Al Qaeda in Iraq’s big comeback was linked to the Arab Spring, specifically the support for the overthrow of Assad. It was already resurgent, but it was nowhere near a state player.

It took a lot of weapons, money and backing for ISIS to get this far and those weapons came as part of the support for the overthrow of governments in Syria and Libya.

Some on the left did not support that. Many did.

If Saddam Hussein were still in power today, Al Qaeda might not be doing as well in Iraq, but it’s hard to say. His fellow Baathist dictator isn’t holding up that well in Syria. The only thing Saddam Hussein would have going for him is the Sunni factor, but the sectarian divisions would have raised the possibility of his military collapsing or being split, along with an Iranian invasion.

Saddam Hussein was a monster who liked to pile up military equipment, but that didn’t save Assad or Gaddafi. He had more firepower than they did, but that’s not much use if your army won’t stand and fight.

And Al Qaeda in Iraq has shown that it can be every bit the monster that Saddam was.

But it’s more likely that if Saddam Hussein were still in power, he would have cut a deal with Al Qaeda instead to destabilize his neighbors. He did have common interests with them and ISIS is in many ways following in his footsteps.

Such alliances are not unusual in the Middle East. Fewer Iraqis might be dead, but such an alliance would have had nasty consequences for everyone else.

Grandstanding clown Boris Johnson has stepped forward with his quote of the day, calling Blair “unhinged”.

Johnson’s criticism of Blair says more about him. Blair, for all his faults, is sticking to his point of view. Johnson, who used to be an informed critic of Islam, embraced Islam and even courted Sharia finance. After the brutal beheading of a soldier by a Koran spewing Jihadist, he trotted out like a good little pet to inform everyone that Islam had nothing to do with it.

Boris Johnson insists that Tony Blair should recant. And yet Tony Blair, for all his oozing slimy ways, has refused to do that.

There’s a species of moral courage in that. If Boris Johnson is bewildered by that, it’s because he can’t comprehend the concept of a politician who holds to an idea even once it becomes extremely unpopular, instead of tossing it aside for political gain.

  • Texas Patriot

    Clowns are running the U.K., and they have been for a long time.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    It’s refreshing to see someone (actually both of you) compare Saddam with Assad and Gaddafi. The leftist cliché is that it would have been better if we left Saddam in power and that our intervention created all the problems including the Sunni-Shiite internecine war. Of course, Assad’s struggle suggests otherwise.

    Had we known what we know today, that Saddam didn’t have WMD, I’d opt for keeping him in power. Still, these Arab fascist strongmen only buy time. Islamists aren’t going away. Indeed, the grow under Arab fascists. Strongmen focus on immediate power and leave the educational institutions in the hands of Islamists (just like our conservatives focus on elections and leave the universities in the hands of leftists). Long term there is a problem, a cultural decay, that can’t be wished away.

    Buying time is only good if you use that time wisely.

    • Pete

      “Strongmen focus on immediate power and leave the educational institutions in the hands of Islamists (just like our conservatives focus on elections and leave the universities in the hands of leftists).”

      That is good.

      The Saudi royal family did the same. When the radicals took over the mosque in mecca, they were shocked. To placate the radicals they instituted the Morality police to mollify them & keep the occupied.

      That has just bought them time.

  • Pete

    “He had more firepower than they did, but that’s not much use if your army won’t stand and fight.”

    The Shah had more firepower than Saddam. His army would not fire on protesters. some of those protesters would be bound to be relatives. Same thing could have happened in Iraq. Shia conscripts gave up easily to the allies of the Gulf War. would they have fired on Shia protesters?

  • djf

    If Saddam were alive today, he would be about 77 years old. For that reason alone, even if we had not invaded, turmoil would have been in store for Iraq by 2014 or soon afterwards.
    To be fair to Blair’s critics, it could be argued that the Iraq war is what triggered the unfortunate “Arab Spring” and, with it, the war in Syria.

    • Pete

      A person could argue that and it is worth inspection.

      Fuel prices also spiked in 2011, so looking at the economic factors are also worthy of inspection.

      Those 2 factors may have interacted as well.

  • glpage

    Of course, Obama’s enabling of the Muslim Brotherhood and their associates has had nothing to do with the problems in the Middle East. /sarc

  • Bazza

    Rubbish. Blair’s hated because of his lies and deception and doing absolutely anything for the USA. He as good as surrendered the UK Government to them.