Not Saussure

February 22, 2007

Blair’s Iraq interview

Filed under: Blair, Iraq — notsaussure @ 9:11 pm

What is there to say about today’s performance (broadcast here; detailed write-ups here and here)? Benedict White pretty much sums it up in his piece. Time and again, Blair insisted that

I don’t think we should be apologising because we’re not causing the terrorism.
It’s being caused by internal extremists who are linking up with external extremists.

and that

These forces that are operating in Iraq at the moment are not the fault of a lack of planning or administration. It is a deliberate attempt [by] external extremists, like al-Qaida [and] like elements connected to Iran, who are linking up with internal extremists to thwart the will of the majority.

I don’t know why I’m surprised; it’s on a footing with the usual excuses. It’s not, for example, the government’s fault ASBOs aren’t working; it’s the fault of the teenagers who aren’t taking any notice of them. Though, somehow, I don’t think it will have gone down too well at today’s meeting on gun crime if the assembled folks from the police and the Home Office said, ‘We don’t what you’re all looking at us for — it’s those bloody people with guns who’re causing the problems. If it wasn’t for them shooting each each other…’.

It seems to me utterly clear. If you take a course of action with reasonably foreseeable consequences, then you’re morally — and, frequently, legally — responsible for the results. At one point, he actually started talking about ‘hornet’s nests’ — well, yes, it’s very annoying of those hornets to behave the way they do, but it still really isn’t a good idea to poke their nests with sticks. I can just imagine the scenes at the Labour HQ after the forthcoming disaster in the local elections — wasn’t our fault; can’t blame us if the buggers won’t vote for us.

Even if, for the sake of argument, we’re prepared to accept that Sir Jeremy Greenstock is mistaken when he says

“In the days following the victory of 9 April [2003] no one, it seems to me, was instructed to put the security of Iraq first. To put law and order on the streets first. There was no police force. There was no constituted army except the victorious invaders.”And there was no American general that I could … establish who was given the accountable responsibility to make sure that the first duty of any government – and we were the government – was to keep law and order on the streets. There was a vacuum from the beginning in which looters, saboteurs, the criminals, the insurgents moved very quickly.”

it’s hardly an excuse that we did, in fact, have some plans and administration in place but they just… errm… didn’t work. Nor is the fact that Blair thinks there was little choice but to disband the whole of the Iraqi Army and Police Force. Quite possibly there wasn’t, but the results of so doing must have been pretty clear to anyone making all these plans he reckons they had, and might have been taken as an argument against going ahead with the invasion.

Or, quite possibly, he and President Bush considered this and decided that the chaos that would ensue was an unfortunately high price for the Iraqis to pay for their liberation from Saddam but they’d just have to pay it since they’d thank us in the long run. In which case he should have the honesty to say it, just as he should have the honesty to say that his Iraq excursion has, in the short term at least, made Britain a more dangerous place but this is sadly necessary (if this what he genuinely thinks) in order to defeat terrorism. But his evasions about ‘they’re just using Iraq as an excuse’ butter no ice and cut no parsnips. It’s just an insult to the audience’s intelligence.

I was reminded of nothing so much as a chap we had in court not so long ago who maintained, despite having agreed he was the only person who had access to his computer, that it had never been connected to the internet and he had absolutely no idea how all this child pornography had appeared on it nor why a forensic examination of index.dat showed that he’d been accessing all these sites in the days before his computer was seized.

Eventually, the prosecuting counsel asked,

‘Whatever I ask you, you’re not going to admit you downloaded those images, are you?
‘No further questions’.

Didn’t take long for the jury to convict him.

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  1. Thanks for that. I found the ducking and diving of the Today interview very confusing, and you’ve just articulated exactly what bothered me.

    Comment by archrights — February 23, 2007 @ 12:51 am

  2. Here in Australia I happened to hear this interview – Blair tried to duck and dive but the interviewer did a pretty good job of pinning Blair down.
    Three years many millions of ordinary people around the world marched against this war. Now they are aghast at how it has been handled and Bush and Blair (and here in Aust our toadying PM) have to take responsibilty.

    Comment by Sylvia — February 25, 2007 @ 9:18 am

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