Here at the Real Deal, we’re big fans of Rod Liddle and occasionally republish the odd one of his more insightful articles.
In the article below, from March 2023, Rod discusses the legacy of the warmongering Blair years.
Ever noticed how much less stable the world is now than in 2003? Well, Blair’s to blame.
Twenty years ago today the US and British tanks rolled into Iraq in an illegal invasion, which, contrary to the belief of one of its chief progenitors, Tony Blair, did not entirely suffuse the Iraqi people with joy. It was an illegal war launched on a false pretext that, I suspect, both Blair and George W Bush knew was a false pretext. The consequence was the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (some put the figure as high as one million), civil war and chaos — which later overspilt into Isis and the Syrian civil war, where a further half a million lost their lives. The fighting continues.
I suppose there must be one or two people, besides Blair, who still believe that this was a wholly marvellous enterprise, but one hopes that they are receiving the appropriate medical interventions. Aside from the dead, injured and displaced, and the financial cost (about £9.6 billion to the UK), the invasion of Iraq ensured that the UK would (justifiably) bear the brunt of Muslim fury for decades to come and destroyed the notion — which some people still had — that Britain was a civilised country that played by the rules. It greatly enhanced the Islamist cause as well as leaving Russia and China strengthened and cognisant of the patent fact that if you act with ruthlessness, even illegal ruthlessness, nobody will really try to stop you.
It would be otiose to rehash all of the incidences of criminality within the government that led to us going to war — the suborning of the security services; the misleading of the House of Commons and the electorate. Sufficient to remember just a little of what Sir John Chilcot concluded in the summer of 2016.
Regarding the stated pretext for war, he said: “The judgments about Iraq’s capabilities . . . were presented with a certainty that was not justified.” And the rush to war? “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.” Blair wanted war by hook or by crook, and the complete and utter absence of weapons of mass destruction was not going to delay him. Hell, Saddam Hussein did not have even weapons of very little destruction.
Blair later disappeared to trouser vast amounts of money from dictatorships such as Kazakhstan, which tells you just about all you need to know. The problem for me, though, is that the rank ideology which underpinned Blair’s decision to invade is still extant, still popular, still considered worth believing in.
Evangelistic liberal interventionism is the well-meaning creed that has caused more misery, more deaths, and more displacement, than either Marxism or Islamism in the past 40 years. It is the notion that we know best how Johnny Foreigner should be governed: we know what these strange people want and what is good for them.
Blair, it has to be said, was particularly gullible. All you have to do is remove Saddam and the people will embrace democracy, freedom and equality for all, perhaps electing for themselves a leader who is a kind of Iraqi equivalent of Vince Cable or Nick Clegg. That’s not what happened, of course; it’s what never happens. A little later, when Blair was acting as a spectacularly useless Middle East envoy, he urged the Palestinians to hold an election and was surprised and aghast when they voted overwhelmingly for the Hamas terrorists.
It is the arrogance and dim-wittedness that appalls: the notion that people in every part of the world want what we want and share our cultural and political values (the same notion, incidentally, underpinned Blair’s immigration policies). It is not true and never has been. As our greatest living writer, John Gray, put it in 2007: “Liberal internationalists declared history had entered a new stage in which pre-emptive war would be used to construct a new world order where democracy and peace thrived. The result of these delusions is what we see today: a world of rising authoritarian regimes and collapsed states no one knows how to govern.”
We should remember the invasion of Iraq — the war itself, and the manner in which we were led by the nose into it. Remember the dead Iraqis and the civil war. Remember, too, the bravery of Labour figures such as Clare Short and the late Robin Cook, who spoke out against it. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator; what followed him was much worse.