Blair 'unhinged' on Iraq: Johnson

Hampshire Chronicle: Tony Blair was criticised after rejecting arguments that Iraq would be more peaceful if the West had not intervened Tony Blair was criticised after rejecting arguments that Iraq would be more peaceful if the West had not intervened

Tony Blair's "unhinged" attempt to rewrite history is undermining arguments for Western intervention in Iraq, Boris Johnson has claimed, in an extraordinary personal attack on the former prime minister.

Mr Blair took to the media to make the case for a tough response to the extremist insurgency in Iraq - insisting it was caused by a failure to deal with the Syria crisis, not the 2003 US-led invasion.

His intervention was met with widespread criticism from Labour figures and others as extremists posted pictures apparently showing the massacre of dozens of Iraqi soldiers by jihadist fighters.

Amid international outrage at the atrocity, US President Barack Obama is weighing up what help to give Baghdad to counter the land-grab by the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

The Pentagon has sent an aircraft carrier to the Gulf in advance of potential air-strikes amid calls on Mr Obama to talk with Iran over a co-ordinated response.

After talks with Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, Foreign Secretary William Hague repeated calls for the country's divided political leaders to present a united front against the Isis threat.

In the strongest condemnation of Mr Blair, the London Mayor went as far as accusing the ex-Labour leader of having sent British forces into the bloody conflict in part to gain personal "grandeur".

In his Daily Telegraph column, Mr Johnson said Mr Blair and then-US president George W Bush had shown "unbelievable arrogance" to believe toppling Saddam Hussein would not result in instability which resulted directly to the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis and hundreds of British and American troops

He suggested there were "specific and targeted" actions that could be taken by the US and its allies to deal with latest threat - as Barack Obama considers a range of military options short of ground troops.

But he said that by refusing to accept that the 2003 war was "a tragic mistake", " Blair is now undermining the very cause he advocates: the possibility of serious and effective intervention.

"Somebody needs to get on to Tony Blair and tell him to put a sock in it, or at least to accept the reality of the disaster he helped to engender. Then he might be worth hearing," Mr Johnson concluded.

The row over the events of 11 years ago came amid suggestions of serious atrocities being committed in the militants' advance.

Taking on critics in an eight-page essay on his website, Mr Blair rejected as "bizarre" claims that Iraq might be more stable today if he had not helped topple Saddam.

The former premier - now a Middle East peace envoy - said Iraq was "in mortal danger", but pinned the blame on the sectarianism of the al-Maliki government and the spread of Syria's brutal three-year civil war.

"The choices are all pretty ugly, it is true," he wrote in a push for military intervention - though not necessarily a return to ground forces.

"But for three years we have watched Syria descend into the abyss and as it is going down, it is slowly but surely wrapping its cords around us, pulling us down with it.

"We have to put aside the differences of the past and act now to save the future. Where the extremists are fighting, they have to be countered hard, with force.

"Every time we put off action, the action we will be forced to take will be ultimately greater."

Former foreign minister Lord Malloch Brown urged Mr Blair to "stay quiet" because his presence in the debate was driving people to oppose what might be the necessary response.;

Clare Short, who quit Mr Blair's cabinet in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, said he had been "absolutely, consistently wrong, wrong, wrong" on the issue, and opposed more strikes.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage dismissed Mr Blair as an "embarrassment" who should hold his tongue - and demanded "an end to the era of military intervention abroad".

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond added his voice to the chorus, accusing Mr Blair of "breathtaking amnesia" over his reasons for invading Iraq.

And Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's ambassador to the US from 1997 to 2003, said the handling of the campaign against Saddam was "perhaps the most significant reason" for today's violence.

"We are reaping what we sowed," he said.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown said: "I'm having a bit of a difficulty getting my mind round the idea that a problem that has been caused or made worse by killing many many Arab Muslims in the Middle East is going to be made better by killing more with western weapons."

In his column, Mr Johnson wrote: " I have come to the conclusion that Tony Blair has finally gone mad.

"In discussing the disaster of modern Iraq he made assertions that are so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly at variance with reality that he surely needs professional psychiatric help."

He went on: " There are more than 100,000 dead Iraqis who would be alive today if we had not gone in and created the conditions for such a conflict, to say nothing of the troops from America, Britain and other countries who have lost their lives in the shambles.

"That is the truth, and it is time Tony Blair accepted it.

"We utterly blitzed the power centres of Iraq with no credible plan for the next stage - and frankly, yes, I do blame Bush and Blair for their unbelievable arrogance in thinking it would work."

Backing the case for intervention, he said: "It would be wrong and self-defeating to conclude that because we were wrong over Iraq, we must always be wrong to try to make the world a better place.

"But we cannot make this case, for an active Britain that is engaged with the world, unless we are at least honest about our failures.

"It might be that there are specific and targeted things we could do - and, morally, perhaps should do," in both Iraq and Syria, he said.

In his pointed attack on Mr Blair's motivation, he wrote: " Blair went in fundamentally because he (rightly) thought it was in Britain's long-term interest to be closely allied with America, and also, alas, because he instinctively understood how war helps to magnify a politician.

"War gives leaders a grandeur they might not otherwise possess. If you hanker after Churchillian or Thatcherian charisma, there is nothing like a victorious war."

Comments (5)

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8:56am Sun 15 Jun 14

varteg1 says...

These top flight pundits like Blair may pontificate all they like about the current state of affairs in the middle east, but when the rest of stood aside to let the insurgency in Syria become a matter of concern, instead of supporting the ruling regime headed by Assad, which for all it's perceived faults we can now see was a far better option to what is today happening there, no wonder with the feeling of some success these murderous insurgents are spreading their bile across borders.

Soon enough, when taking it all together, Libya, Egypt (where thankfully the military seems to have a good grip)Syria, Yemen, parts of Sudan, northern Nigeria, and now Iraq and possibly Lebanon once this bunch calling themselves ISIS gain a larger footprint, we may be forced to take severe military action, or ring fence the whole region controlled by these terrorist factions. That would have to also include the likes of the gulf states including Saudi Arabia, which may have a military superiority as of today, but so did Saddam and Gadaffi and where are they now.
Sorry to say it but Blair et al are just pedantic meddlers,

E need a decision now n ot after more prolonged gab fests where 'peace' is the name of the game but which, in reality, are just delays as we head towards that final conflict between the global ambitions of Islam and the rest who abhor such an all encompassing and unacceptable religiously formulated cult.
These top flight pundits like Blair may pontificate all they like about the current state of affairs in the middle east, but when the rest of stood aside to let the insurgency in Syria become a matter of concern, instead of supporting the ruling regime headed by Assad, which for all it's perceived faults we can now see was a far better option to what is today happening there, no wonder with the feeling of some success these murderous insurgents are spreading their bile across borders. Soon enough, when taking it all together, Libya, Egypt (where thankfully the military seems to have a good grip)Syria, Yemen, parts of Sudan, northern Nigeria, and now Iraq and possibly Lebanon once this bunch calling themselves ISIS gain a larger footprint, we may be forced to take severe military action, or ring fence the whole region controlled by these terrorist factions. That would have to also include the likes of the gulf states including Saudi Arabia, which may have a military superiority as of today, but so did Saddam and Gadaffi and where are they now. Sorry to say it but Blair et al are just pedantic meddlers, E need a decision now n ot after more prolonged gab fests where 'peace' is the name of the game but which, in reality, are just delays as we head towards that final conflict between the global ambitions of Islam and the rest who abhor such an all encompassing and unacceptable religiously formulated cult. varteg1
  • Score: 6

10:18pm Sun 15 Jun 14

RM says...

I suppose he reckons that if he lies often enough & loudly enough that he is not responsible for the state of Iraq someone might actually believe him. The state of Iraq today is due wholly to the 'work' of Blair & his accomplice George Dubya who thought it would be a good idea to invade a sovereign country & depose its ruler, gaining support through lies & misleading other world leaders that Saddam had WMDs. Iraq is & always will be Blair's legacy.
I suppose he reckons that if he lies often enough & loudly enough that he is not responsible for the state of Iraq someone might actually believe him. The state of Iraq today is due wholly to the 'work' of Blair & his accomplice George Dubya who thought it would be a good idea to invade a sovereign country & depose its ruler, gaining support through lies & misleading other world leaders that Saddam had WMDs. Iraq is & always will be Blair's legacy. RM
  • Score: 2

1:52am Mon 16 Jun 14

steve314 says...

I don't accept Boris Johnson's assertion that Blair's motivation for the Iraq invasion was self aggrandisement. I think the motivation was largely what he says it was: to remove a murderous dictator.

The mistakes in removing the government power structures in Iraq without adequate thought for what would replace them are there for all to see. But to say that the result was the death of 100,000 Iraqis, without considering how many would have been killed if Saddam had stayed in power, is wrong. Blair is right to point out that a dictator who would have gone on to kill on a scale at least matching the scale of Assad's killings was removed. And that is a good thing.

There are no bloodless solutions to such problems. All the politicians who criticize Blair now do so with the luxury of hindsight and without having to consider what might have been the course of history if the Iraq invasion of 2003 had not happened.
I don't accept Boris Johnson's assertion that Blair's motivation for the Iraq invasion was self aggrandisement. I think the motivation was largely what he says it was: to remove a murderous dictator. The mistakes in removing the government power structures in Iraq without adequate thought for what would replace them are there for all to see. But to say that the result was the death of 100,000 Iraqis, without considering how many would have been killed if Saddam had stayed in power, is wrong. Blair is right to point out that a dictator who would have gone on to kill on a scale at least matching the scale of Assad's killings was removed. And that is a good thing. There are no bloodless solutions to such problems. All the politicians who criticize Blair now do so with the luxury of hindsight and without having to consider what might have been the course of history if the Iraq invasion of 2003 had not happened. steve314
  • Score: 2

9:04am Mon 16 Jun 14

RM says...

steve314 wrote:
I don't accept Boris Johnson's assertion that Blair's motivation for the Iraq invasion was self aggrandisement. I think the motivation was largely what he says it was: to remove a murderous dictator.

The mistakes in removing the government power structures in Iraq without adequate thought for what would replace them are there for all to see. But to say that the result was the death of 100,000 Iraqis, without considering how many would have been killed if Saddam had stayed in power, is wrong. Blair is right to point out that a dictator who would have gone on to kill on a scale at least matching the scale of Assad's killings was removed. And that is a good thing.

There are no bloodless solutions to such problems. All the politicians who criticize Blair now do so with the luxury of hindsight and without having to consider what might have been the course of history if the Iraq invasion of 2003 had not happened.
Well, if Blair had not lied about the WDMs & not invaded Iraq there would be at least 100,000 more Iraqis still alive and 100+ coalition troops still alive. Plus the British government would not have had to pay out damages to the families of the Iraqis who were ill-treated/murdered by British troops. Muslim extremisim would not be an issue here in the UK. 07/07 is unlikely to have occurred. Win-win all round IMO. Interference in the government of a sovereign state - particularly by an invasion - is sheer stupidy & will always be Blair's legacy.
[quote][p][bold]steve314[/bold] wrote: I don't accept Boris Johnson's assertion that Blair's motivation for the Iraq invasion was self aggrandisement. I think the motivation was largely what he says it was: to remove a murderous dictator. The mistakes in removing the government power structures in Iraq without adequate thought for what would replace them are there for all to see. But to say that the result was the death of 100,000 Iraqis, without considering how many would have been killed if Saddam had stayed in power, is wrong. Blair is right to point out that a dictator who would have gone on to kill on a scale at least matching the scale of Assad's killings was removed. And that is a good thing. There are no bloodless solutions to such problems. All the politicians who criticize Blair now do so with the luxury of hindsight and without having to consider what might have been the course of history if the Iraq invasion of 2003 had not happened.[/p][/quote]Well, if Blair had not lied about the WDMs & not invaded Iraq there would be at least 100,000 more Iraqis still alive and 100+ coalition troops still alive. Plus the British government would not have had to pay out damages to the families of the Iraqis who were ill-treated/murdered by British troops. Muslim extremisim would not be an issue here in the UK. 07/07 is unlikely to have occurred. Win-win all round IMO. Interference in the government of a sovereign state - particularly by an invasion - is sheer stupidy & will always be Blair's legacy. RM
  • Score: 2

8:41pm Mon 16 Jun 14

gramps427 says...

What ever they screwed up in 2003 and before that even; Blair is right in saying the sudden attack in Iraq is a result of the war in Syria and the failure to prevent radical nutters from being armed & organised. The entire country of Iraq is a failure as the way it was drawn up in the 1920's failed to take into account that the area is tribal and split by religious divide. A fact recognised by the former UN special envoy to Syria who has suggested that breaking up the country into Kurdish, Shia and Sunni territories may be the only way to solve it..
What ever they screwed up in 2003 and before that even; Blair is right in saying the sudden attack in Iraq is a result of the war in Syria and the failure to prevent radical nutters from being armed & organised. The entire country of Iraq is a failure as the way it was drawn up in the 1920's failed to take into account that the area is tribal and split by religious divide. A fact recognised by the former UN special envoy to Syria who has suggested that breaking up the country into Kurdish, Shia and Sunni territories may be the only way to solve it.. gramps427
  • Score: 1
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