The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPatrick Cockburn Archive
Tony Blair Apologises for Iraq War
The former PM's mind has been paralysed by what happened in 2003
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

What is striking about Tony Blair’s latest comments about his role in the Iraq War is how little he had learnt about the country in the 12 years since the invasion. It could be added, however, that his accusers have not learned much either.

He conflates two events that should be looked at separately. He says that he does not apologise for removing Saddam Hussein: one could argue that most Iraqis wanted this to bring an end to Saddam’s disastrous rule at that time. But the US and Britain then went on to occupy Iraq and it was the war against the occupation, waged separately by Sunni and Shia, that destroyed the country and enabled al-Qaeda to gain its first foothold there.

It is difficult to understand Mr Blair’s position, because here is an intelligent man whose mind seems to have been paralysed by his experiences in 2003. His comments on Iraq and other events in the Middle East since that date are consistently ill-informed and partisan.

This is in sharp contrast to his understanding of the problems of Northern Ireland about which he writes knowledgeably and lucidly in his autobiography. It is as if Iraq turned his political strengths to weaknesses: his self-confidence turned into rigidity and an arrogant inability to admit he was mistaken and to avoid such mistakes in future.

It was evident from the first days of the invasion that President Bush and Mr Blair might get away with the invasion, but if they tried to stay in the country they would be in trouble. The reason they did so had nothing to do with the greater good of the Iraqi people, but because they did not want Iran, the greatest Shia power, to benefit from the fall of Saddam Hussein. But this was always going to happen because any election in Iraq would bring to power the Shia who made up 60 per cent of the population.

Iraqis say that sanctions destroyed Iraqi society and the invasion destroyed the Iraqi state. There have been claims since that if there had been a post-invasion plan in Iraq then all would have been well, but this is patronising nonsense. The only Iraqis who welcomed the occupation were the Kurds, who were not occupied. Moreover, all the states neighbouring Iraq, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, did not want the occupation to succeed. Any insurgency inside Iraq was always going to receive arms and money from outside.


The state in Iraq that the US and Britain claimed to be rebuilding was delegitimised from the beginning in the eyes of Iraqis because it was so openly a foreign creation. The same was true in Afghanistan where the great strength of the Taliban was the contempt and hatred felt by so many Afghans for the government in Kabul. British forces were sent to Helmand in 2006 with same lack of understanding of the dangers, just as they had been sent to Basra in 2003, and with the same disastrous results. Actions that were supposed to show the US how effective Britain was as an ally achieved exactly the opposite result.

There is a danger that an obsessive interest in Britain in attributing blame for what happened in Iraq in 2003 is pursued with the narrow purpose of demonising Mr Blair and ignoring the broader context of what happened then and is happening now. It is not just that he made mistakes then, but he went on making them. In his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry some five years ago, he was lauding the successes of the Iraqi government of the day, though everybody in Iraq knew it was dysfunctional, kleptocratic and sectarian.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq War, Tony Blair 
Hide 11 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Kiza says:

    Cockburn is becoming worse and worse. Do ramblings of a war criminal deserve any analysis? The character should be on an electric chair or getting a merciful injection of poison, instead of filling the media cycle every couple of months with his mindless ramblings, half-apologies and justifications. Publicity hungry turd Tony Blair is the terminal phase of once mighty empire sinking to the bottom of a moral septic tank.

    If Cockburn continuous this kind of rubbish (trying to finesse the war crimes of a sinking empire), I for one will definitely start skipping.

    • Replies: @WorkingClass
  2. @Kiza

    Agreed. Tony Blair is complicit in mass murder. So fuck Tony Blair. Likewise why are we still exposed to the musings of Henry Kissinger or Dick Cheney to name just two.

    • Replies: @greysquirrell
  3. KA says:

    Idiocy doesn’t explain the blunder . Self interests does. Self interests include paying the pipers,achieving future political roles ,financial gains,remaing relevant in the eyes of media,securing the future of the loved ones, not becoming the discarded lonely dogs like Canadian French,and German elected leaders became and synch with the British power that control the Middle East foreign policy of both the parties in UK.

    Remember some of the additional names – Levy ,Murdoch,Guardian columnists,Telegraph columnists . ( I have forgot some other players ) .He sure remembers Perle and Lantos( US) what they could have done to him.

    Blair sure remembered also not only J Carter ( US) but also the threat to his son’s election bid .
    Idiocy is not a conspiracy driven process. He was not stupid . He knew what he was doing.

    Why is he worried today? Does he something on the wall? With US down,he may lose his protection the way Saddam lost . If this onto use inexorably down,US may protect him in 20 yrs time from now. He will be still younger than Pinochet then.

  4. Rehmat says: • Website

    I’m sure if Stalin or Hitler had been alive today, they too had said sorry if appointed by European Jewish Lobby to fight anti-Semitism.

    Tony Blair, has made tens of million dollars by creating wars and conflict around the world and lobbying for dictatorial regimes. He is sought for war crimes by several groups.

    Tony Blair, a professional liar, would find his new highly-paid position very easy to handle. He will feel no shame to call every critic of Israel, “anti-Semite”, “Holocaust denier,” or “anti-Israel”.

  5. @WorkingClass

    Not to absolve or be an apologist for Blair & Bush , but I am quite flabbergasted at how little criticism and attention is paid to Clinton and Albright for their support of sanctions against Iraq. More people died under those sanctions than from the Iraq war. It was Albright who said “it was worth it” when asked if the death of half a million Iraqi children was worth sanctioning Iraq.

    • Replies: @WorkingClass
  6. @greysquirrell

    I regard Clinton, Bush and Obama as three peas in a pod regarding foreign policy. Bush/Cheney qualify for an extra helping of contempt for 9/11 and the global war on terror.

    • Replies: @gussos
  7. Bliss says:

    So when will Bush apologize for invading Iraq, effectively gifting Baghdad to Qom and giving birth to ISIS? All at the cost of thousands of american lives and 100s of thousands of iraqi lives…

    If and when he does apologize won’t Bush also be forced to admit that he lied or was deluded when he claimed that God told him to attack Iraq?

  8. rancos says: • Website

    Consternation with Cockburn rantings trust no one Pity though.

    • Replies: @Rancos
  9. Rancos says:

    Yanks misspeaks lies hell no.

  10. gussos says:

    [Instead of numerous short comments, it’s better to combine them into one or two longer and more substantial ones. Also, pick a single handle and stick to it.]

    America/Britain foreign policy is war

  11. AndrewR says:

    Empires empire, and the winners write the history books. Yes Iraq was not a “win” in any meaningful sense but the Anglo-US-Zionist triumvirate empire remains quite intact, so who has the power to punish its leaders? Blair, Bush and Netanyahoo will most likely be long dead by the time the world order changes enough that they could be brought to justice. And as much as I despise our elites I can’t say I want to live under a world order led by Russia, China, Turkey or Iran.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Patrick Cockburn Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr