In a fascinating interview, former prime minister Tony Blair shares his thoughts on the Middle East. First, on Iraq:
You know, the people who caused the difficulty in Iraq were al-Qaida on the one hand linking up with internal insurgents, but Iranian-backed militia on the other.
In other words, there was an external pressure that was trying to create and foment this sectarianism. So, in the end, what is the answer? The answer is to support and empower those people who want a different way forward, which include, of course, the people who are voting in Iraqi and Afghan elections and wanting a different way forward.
The lesson of Iraq — that moderate (actually moderate) Muslims should be supported and can successfully fight back against Islamic terror and repression — is one that, tragically, Obama has declined to absorb and explain. He isn’t comfortable acknowledging the jihadist identity of our enemy, so moderates who died to defeat that enemy get little credit, and the experience is not put to good use. You would think that in “Muslim outreach” we’d be talking up our role in liberating Muslims, right?
Blair on Iran:
TONY BLAIR: Well, you see, I think that, if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons capability, it would destabilize the whole of the Middle East. So, I don’t think it’s acceptable that it does.
And one of the reasons why Iran with nuclear capability is unacceptable is because of the nature of the Iranian regime. So, you know, this is — this is — you know, in that debate, in a way, you have encapsulated both the toughness and difficulty of the decision-making, because what happens if sanctions don’t work, and also the problem that, in the end, you know that they will try to present our confronting them as an attack on Islam, whereas, of course, it isn’t.
It’s an attack on a regime acquiring, unlawfully, nuclear weapons capability in circumstances where they export terrorism and chaos around the region.
MARGARET WARNER: So, when you talk about confronting them, you’re talking about militarily?
TONY BLAIR: You can’t take that option off the table, in my view. You know, I don’t want that option. I think we should strive as hard as we can to avoid it. But they have got to know that the will is there to stop them getting that capacity, because I think — look, you know, it’s difficult — these are difficult judgments. But my judgment, being out in that region a lot of the time, is, if you get a nuclear-armed Iran, two things will happen.
One, you will completely change the balance of power within the region, probably have other countries trying to acquire that capability, too. And, secondly, I see what Iran does in that region. You know, it’s not just about nuclear weapons capability. They are pushing and fomenting this extremism everywhere.
Now, if you give them the technology for nuclear weapons, can you be sure that they wouldn’t leak that technology? Well, I wouldn’t take that risk, personally.
We haven’t had anything approaching this level of thoughtful discussion from the Obami. For them there is a two-part mantra: 1) Sanctions are working (oh, really, how can they tell?), and 2) military action would be destabilizing. The first proposition is meant to forestall discussion of the second.
We are going to have a more conservative Congress come November and a president who no longer commands the loyalty of his own party. In that mix, will an American Tony Blair emerge to sound the alarm and demand our serious consideration of the greatest national security issue of our time? We should hope so. Right now, we are sleepwalking toward a nuclear-armed Iran while the Obami busy themselves with the fantasy that there is a Middle East peace deal in the offing.
Blair’s point is telling — there is no “peace” with a nuclear-armed revolutionary Islamic state. It’s not clear anyone in the administration, most critically the president, has grasped this.