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Hullabaloo


Monday, October 26, 2015

 

No slip-up, Sherlock

by Tom Sullivan

While George W. Bush finger-paints in Crawford, TX, Tony Blair is still taking heat in England for the Iraq invasion. A six-year public inquiry into the affair is still unpublished. Only now, tentatively, has Blair admitted things have not gone as smoothly as Bush/Cheney promised (emphasis mine):

Only one of Tony Blair’s mea culpas in his CNN interview stands out as truly significant: his partial acknowledgment that without the Iraq war there would be no Islamic State (Isis).

Until now, Blair had refused to link the two, insisting instead in the lead-up to the war that sending western troops would deny jihadis an arena and prevent Saddam Hussein from using them as proxies in his standoff with the west.

Blair would only admit there were "elements of truth" in claims that the Iraq invasion gave rise to ISIL, now in control of swaths of Iraq and Syria, just the opposite of a key public goal of the Iraq invasion:

"Of course, you can't say that those of us who removed (former Iraqi dictator) Saddam (Hussein) in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015," Blair told U.S. network CNN.

Critics say the U.S. decision to disband Saddam Hussein’s army after the invasion created a huge security vacuum exploited by al Qaeda, which was eventually replaced by Islamic State.

Der Spiegel examined in detail in April how Paul Bremer's disbanding the Iraqi army contributed the rise of the Islamic State (IS). For those who missed it, the Guardian provided a condensed version on Sunday:

Perhaps even more directly relevant to Sunni grievances and the rise of Isis, was the US-run prison system, which started with rampant abuses at Abu Ghraib and evolved into mass detention, albeit of both major sects. Sunni jihadis said the prison system was their most effective organising tool.

A senior Isis commander has told the Guardian that without the Camp Bucca facility in southern Iraq, in which he and most of the senior leadership were at one point detained, there would be no Isis today. “It made it all, it built our ideology,” he told the Guardian last December, “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” he said. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership.”

The Guardian's Martin Chulov quotes a Baghdad resident's reaction to Blair's admission as "so obvious it’s surprising he bothered to speak." Furthermore, “It really isn’t possible to come to any other conclusion. Without the invasion, we would not have Isis. It’s crystal clear.”

While Blair struggles to explain the mess he helped make in Iraq, George W. Bush makes a mess of painting the way he served as president, in "high-amateur" mode.