Dear Tony Blair

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Lawrence Dushenki, Opinions Editor

 

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair recently penned an article for CNN.com, in which he calls on world leaders to rally together to act on Islamist extremism. This coming from the same man who walked hand in hand with George W. Bush into a misguided and unfounded 2003 invasion of Iraq. He now operates a think tank of sorts, that he repeatedly cites in his article, that continue to espouse the necessity of military intervention in a region that has never recovered from the Iraq War.

Despite the scathing remarks found in the Chilcot report, Blair seems to accept no responsibility for the current state of affairs relating to Islamist extremism. Coming from the man that committed 45,000 troops to the invasion of Iraq, when little in the way of containment or diplomatic efforts had been taken, this seems difficult to take seriously. We need not forget the fact that the entire basis of the original Iraq invasion was that the regime of Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction, and that the use of them was imminent. There was never any proof of such WMD’s found, and countless lives were lost as a result.

No one would argue that Saddam was a great leader for the people of Iraq, but a unilateral invasion, the first one that British forces took part in since WWII, was surely not the answer to the problem at hand. Now we see Blair, at the head of the”Centre on Region and Geopolitics” think tank, doing his best to motivate the heads of state to continue his military interventionist approach that went so poorly some thirteen years ago.

The most striking line that Blair writes in his piece on CNN, is this:

Most people across the globe agree that this threat has not been caused by Western foreign policy; only 12 per cent of people around the world cite it as the primary cause.
Left-leaning political leaders have to understand that whatever their criticisms of foreign policy, this is not the cause of the challenge
While it would admittedly be quite shocking to see a former Prime Minister admit that his foreign policy actions, especially an invasion of this sort, lead to the global crisis that we are now facing, to say that the actions of Western foreign policy did not play a greater role in the current crisis is short sighted to say the least.
American troops first attacked Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, with the Iraq invasion coming just two years later. It is now 2016, and there is no question that in the almost generation of Western foreign intervention in the region, a significant amount of extremism has been generated.
Imagine having your country occupied for fifteen years. The level of resentment that would be generated. The killing of innocent women and children by not only boots on the ground but invisible drones in the sky. This is what the effect of a never ending war has on a population.
While there are surely a multitude of reasons for the current state of extremism with the Islamic community, to say that the foreign policy intervention did not play a greater role in it is nothing short of an attempt to re-write the history books so as to overlook the role that Blair himself played in the current crisis.
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