Sunday, April 27, 2014


Tony Blair on Meet The Press --

What I'm really saying is, look, if we analyze correctly what the nature of the problem is, in each of these individual countries, there are things that we're going to have to do that require commitment and engagement. It doesn't mean doing what we did in Iraq or Afghanistan. But it does mean being prepared to engage. And engage specifically, knowing and identifying, that the problem is around this Islamist ideology. And so whether it's, for example, in Egypt or whether it would be in Yemen or Syria ... Let's be very clear in Afghanistan and Iraq. You can agree or disagree with either decision. We removed brutal dictatorships. Allowed the people a chance to elect their government. They came out in both cases and voted, showing that they wanted such election. We gave them a massive amount of financial support. What was the disruptive effect? The disruptive effect was that very Islamist ideology I'm talking about, on the one side being pushed out of Iran from the Iranian theocracy, on the other side Al Qaeda and other groups. And they combined to try and destabilize the wishes of the majority of the country.

So his diagnosis of Iraq is that Iran and Al Qaeda ganged up to remove a majority government, but he also talks about how Egypt might have a problem with Islamist ideology -- having just had its elected Islamist government removed by a military coup.

Of course all blogging may be a waste of time and Blair-Bush-blogging even more so but the trouble with Blair's Islamism-is-the-real-problem  advocacy is that the complexity of Middle East politics and culture makes it impossible for such a theory to be coherent. If you want a single theory for all the country contexts, the more promising one is of a Shia-Sunni schism interacting with sclerotic, totalitarian, and failed states. One brute force intervention was never likely to make that situation better.