Author and journalist Matt Carr dissects what Tony Blair really meant by his speech this morning on “radical Islam.”
Hello World. I’m Tony Blair, the highest-paid speaker in the world and the Middle East “Peace Envoy” and I’d like to share my thoughts with you on how to combat the threat of “radical Islam.”
Because this threat is very serious indeed. In fact it is “not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world. It is destabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation.”
As most of you know will know, I have courageously and tenaciously set out to combat these dark forces for many years now, with considerable success. And I would like to share my thoughts with you on what “we” can do to combat this menace:
1. Take military action everywhere and anywhere in the world regardless of the risks and consequences, as I did when I took the decision to participate in the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Both these actions have contributed enormously to reducing “extremist violence” as anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of these countries can attest.
2. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to understand or define what “radical Islam” actually is. Any attempts at such analysis can only undermine the moral clarity required for the struggle between “pluralistic societies and open economies, where the attitudes and patterns of globalisation are embraced; and those who want to impose an ideology born out of a belief that there is one proper religion and one proper view of it.”
Do not consider the political and historical context that has given rise to the various manifestations of “political Islam.”
3. Make no distinctions between the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda or Boko Haram – all of them are the same and all of them are equally evil, and we “have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us at any one time.”
4. Support every military action that Israel undertakes, even if such actions involve the deliberate bombing of civilian population centers, as was the case in the 2006 Lebanon war, where I did everything I diplomatically could to delay a ceasefire while pretending that I was trying to bring about “peace.”
Do not, under any circumstances, criticize Israel’s right to occupy the West Bank and Gaza or shoot and bomb any Palestinian anywhere, because Israel is defending our values as well as its own security.
5. Support any act of violence, no matter how ruthless or brutal, carried out by any state against “Islamic radicals,” as I did various times when in office, not only in Lebanon and Gaza, but also in Russia, where I fully supported the murderous war waged by Vladimir Putin against Chechen rebels.
6. “Take sides” in the Middle East, regardless of whether or not these “sides” are “pluralistic” or committed to “open economies” – these concepts are only useful as labels and do not have to refer to anything concrete.
In Syria, support rebels who are dominated by Islamic extremists and al-Qaeda-like formations, supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. In Egypt take the side of an army that has overthrown a democratically-elected government in order to maintain its historic dominance over Egyptian society. In Afghanistan support the corrupt warlord government of Hamid Karzai and commit British troops to a war in Helmand province in which they didn’t have the remotest idea of who they were fighting for or against.
7. In order to win political Islamists over to “pluralism,” support dictators that do what you want, as I once did when I went to kiss Gaddafi in the desert, and overthrow those that don’t.
Remain silent about the repression of pro-democracy activists in Bahrain. Back the Egyptian army, which has killed, tortured and imprisoned thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and imprisoned al-Jazeera journalists for four months on trumped-up charges.
By backing these efforts, you will demonstrate that there is no room in democratic politics for any political movement with an Islamist agenda, and prove – as al Qaeda and its offshoots have always argued – that jihad is the only way!
8. Make veiled criticisms of Saudi Arabia (“It is absurd to spend billions of dollars on security arrangements and on defence to protect ourselves against the consequences of an ideology that is being advocated in the formal and informal school systems and in civic institutions of the very countries with whom we have intimate security and defence relationships”).
Do not mention the inconvenient fact that I myself once overruled a Serious Fraud investigation into corrupt payments regarding a British-Saudi arms deal involving “billions of dollars.” Do not ask why a country known for its promotion of a particularly “extreme” version of Islam and its antipathy towards democracy is funding the Egyptian military government.
9. Regret nothing, like Edith Piaf, for regrets are an impediment to “leadership.” And know that no matter how badly it all turns out, no matter how many people die as a result of the policies I am advocating, it will be worth it because I will get richer and richer, while others fight and die and suffer the consequences of the “risks” that I am courageously advocating.
10. Get your fatuous views published by liberal newspapers like The Guardian, which still regards me as a great man, no matter what the results of my actions have been, and no matter how dim my pronouncements might seem to others.