Thursday, May 10, 2007
# Posted 3:06 PM by Patrick Porter
TOUGH AIN'T ENOUGH: British Prime Minister Tony Blair today announced that he would step down. There will be much to argue about over his legacy, which he articulated in a speech to his own local party.
But he made one statement about the war on terror that's worth pondering:
For me, I think we must see it through. They, the terrorists, who threaten us here and round the world, will never give up if we give up. It is a test of will and of belief, and we can't fail it.
Oxblog readers will have their own views on this. For what its worth, I think Blair was right to recognise after 9/11 that militant Islam had to be confronted in solidarity with the US, even if it meant that Britain would be drawn into the firing line.
Blair is right in his instinct that it is naive to pretend that the conflict can be indefinitely avoided by distancing Britain from the UK. A little like believing that a fire in a bedroom can be wished away by closing the door and retreating to another part of the house.
It may not be an existential conflict yet, but the ability of terrorists to incinerate skyscrapers, blow up embassies, ruin economies and inflict poverty remains a non-trivial threat. And he is right to see it as a wider struggle against moderation and liberal values all over the world - its not all about us.
But here's where his rhetoric and vision, and Bush's, often fall short. This may be a test of nerve and will, but its much more than that.
Its a test of ingenuity, competence and skill as well. On that test, we have not done well. A war in Afghanistan that enjoyed genuine local support and removed a dangerous regime has been unnecessarily jeopardised because of some bad policies. Whatever you think about Iraq, whether it was a foreordained disaster or mismanagement, some bad decisions helped to ensure a disaster.
A friend of mine expressed it much better:
"Without denying that determination matters, this is not a good way to look at things. It is the Anglosphere's enemies who operate like that. Both Hitler and the Japanese Militarists were all about how they were going to be victorious because their Wills were greater. (The Americans in particular were discounted because they were all weak and materialist and decayed by the good life and lack of racial/cultural fibre.) There is a fair bit of that among the jihadis as well.
It leaves out, or seriously undervalues, capacity and competence. You end up with Stalingrad--feeding more and more troops and effort into the wrong fight at the wrong place in the wrong way until your opponent pulls a Zhukov and crunches your weak points. The Allies did not win WWII because their will was greater."
Come to think of it, when talking about foreign policy since 9/11, this summarises Blair and Blairism: high ideals and poor execution.
Having said all that, Blair recognised that at a critical moment, this was no time for misguided isolationism. For that and for much else, he will be missed. (7) opinions -- Add your opinion
I'm all for actively opposing militant Islam. That's hardly a controversial stand. Its unfortunate that the people in the positions to effectuate that goal post-9/11 invested such a massive bulk of our limited resources and energy and public support on Iraq, which was certainly a cruel dictatorship located in the Islamic world but, as Islamic countries go, it was relatively secular and not the embodiment of the militant Islam that has launched attacks against the West.
"I'm all for actively opposing militant Islam. That's hardly a controversial stand."
I wish you were right. Unfortunately, actively opposing militant Islam, even before Iraq, was criticised in some quarters for being an incitement to terrorism.
Italy, for example, partly under communist direction has just removed hundreds of troops out of Afghanistan. In the liberal media at least in the UK, some argued that standing shoulder to shoulder would only rally people to Bin Laden's banner.
There remains the view that terrorism is primarily caused by our resistance against it. And that countries like the UK should distance themselves from America in order to avoid danger.
This is why the proposition that it must be actively opposed is actually controversial. And why Blair in my view should be commended for it.
Your point about Iraq points to what I was saying in the post - that the use of resources, energy and public support is about the execution and performance of strategy and policy, which is where the US/UK have fallen short.
I agree and disagree. Opposing militant Islam may incite terrorism to some degree, a degree which must be accepted if we are to actively oppose it. But, on the other hand invading and occupying Islamic countries that did not attack us (nor represent the brand of Islamic militarism that attacked us) has and will continue to incite further terrorist activity around the world.
I think Iraq is not just a matter of unfortunate strategic errors made while pursuing good policy. Iraq is the centerpiece of the supposed fight against militant Islam. But Iraq never represented what we are supposedly fighting against. So, I personally think Blair has undermined the entire effort against militant Islam with his support for the entirely foreseeable catastrophe that is the Iraq War. I'm afraid that will be his legacy.
Iraq was something of a root causes argument. That poverty and oppressive government created an atmosphere conducive to terrorism. That the creation of a democracy who's people are free to pursue economic and social bonds as they see fit right in the center of islamic radicalism (between Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia) would be a stabilizing force in the region.
It was a great idea. Poorly executed, maybe. But still progressing and, as seems almost universally forgotten, it has been no more difficult or time consuming than was expected going in.
'That the creation of a democracy who's people are free to pursue economic and social bonds as they see fit right in the center of islamic radicalism (between Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia) would be a stabilizing force in the region. It was a great idea. Poorly executed, maybe.'
Yea, maybe. I'm not quite sure yet though.
'But still progressing and, as seems almost universally forgotten, it has been no more difficult or time consuming than was expected going in.'
Here here. Quite true.
Timothy,Post a Comment
Iraq was something of a root causes argument. That poverty and oppressive government created an atmosphere conducive to terrorism.
You are wrong in this, simply go and read all the UN reports in regards of Iraqi society specifically in regards in the literacy and economy, yes there was regime mismanagement of money but in large context Iraq was the best of all its neighbours countries in all aspects of life of its society.
So please be careful when you putting your words, I think any one should be careful and honest when writing about a country high jacked by imperial power looking for the oil and for the historical revenge of the most famous exile in the history ever to Babylon by Iraqi king "Nebuchadnezzar" may I suggested for you to read this book:
"An Alliance Against Babylon"
By John K. Cooley:
Also I would highlight for you this article may give you more in depth of what's done to Iraq by occupied force:
""I believe the average American, or Iraqi citizen would be furious to know how President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Bremer and others caused the societal and institutional collapse of what was a fairly well running, civilized and organized institutional culture.
Their collective decisions is facilitated the American and British contractors in bringing thousands of third world nationals into Iraq while excluding the poor and unemployed Iraqis from even earning a living or participating in the reconstruction of their own country. Many of whom later turned to the insurgency to earn a living."
'Iraq; A Hell on Earth Made in Washington D.C.
And finally look to this one:
"In an unusually lucid column, former Iraq War enthusiast Thomas Friedman makes a plea for a responsible policy for military disengagement from Iraq. I'll go straight to the punch line:
You can't be serious about getting out of Iraq if you're not serious about getting off oil."