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WELL SAID

Britain’s former prime minister, Tony Blair, is no less earnest than he was in 2003. Now, as then, he seeks military intervention in Iraq on grounds that a failure to do so would imperil the security of Western nations. Unfortunately, Mr Blair sounds even less convincing now than he did in 2003, and he has no one but himself to blame for that. It is now the stuff of legend how the two most powerful world leaders — George W. Bush, then the president of the United States of America, and Mr Blair, then prime minister — manipulated the world into believing that bringing down the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq was the only way to deal with the threat of al Qaida. If there were suspicions about the veracity of the claim, they turned into shocking certainties in the tumult that followed. The threat of Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction turned out to be an untruth “sexed up” to justify the grand designs of the two men hankering after glory. Moreover, the suspension of military action in Afghanistan turned out to be as disastrous as the forced intervention in Iraq. While in the former country it gave the Taliban enough time to recoup and regroup; in the latter, it left a trail of devastation and death in the absence of any clear strategy on what was to be done after Hussein was stripped of power, hounded out and then put to an ignominious end. Iraq was promised democracy and was given a government that could not survive a day without the support of the occupation forces. This support was finally withdrawn in 2011, leaving Iraq to crumble under the weight of contradictions, discriminations and sectarian battles that the experiment of the duo — Messrs Bush and Blair — had triggered off.

This story is fairly known to the world. That is why it is particularly galling that Mr Blair should try and wash his hands of the mess by arguing that “we didn’t cause [the] Iraq crisis”. Rather, he believes that it is the West’s failure to intervene in Syria that is responsible for Syria and Iraq’s collapse. Mr Blair’s thesis has been widely condemned, and justifiably so. It is the West’s misadventure in Afghanistan and Iraq that is behind much of the West’s current dilemma about interventionism. Even without Mr Blair, the West may be dragged into a role in Iraq. But, as in Libya, it is likely that such a role will complicate matters instead of resolving them.