The Genie Escaped
"To be honest my understanding of the Middle East is a lot deeper today than it was when I was prime minister, quite frankly."
"For sure we underestimated profoundly the forces that were at work in the region and would take advantage of change once you topple the regime. That is the lesson. The lesson is not complicated. The lesson is simple. It is that when you remove a dictatorship out come these forces of destabilization whether it is al-Qaeda on the Sunni side or Iran on the Shia side."
"I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong. I also apologize for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime."
"Airstrikes are not going to defeat [ISIL]. It does not mean it has to be our forces all the time -- it could be that our forces are in support. But be in no doubt, if you want to defeat these people you are going to have to wage a proper ground war against them. The only question for us is whether we are prepared to."
Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Britain : UN Middle East Envoy
History will always be re-written by those who find real events discouraging in retrospect. And so, the mantra that incorrect information had been received and relied upon on which to base the decision to invade Iraq was responsible for the invasion and for its long and far-reaching consequences is rather another in a long list of outright lies. Most people who were interested in the suspenseful period when President G.W. Bush was agitating for agreement internationally on a coalition led by the United States to invade Iraq and free it from its dictator recall the televised presentations by Colin Powell.
Colin Powell, the popular general who became part of the Republican administration because he was admired and trusted and even thought of as one time to be a potential future presidential candidate, was used and abused by the White House, as then-Secretary-of-State. He was their credible explainer of the situation, speaking of the Saddam administration carefully taking steps to keep its nuclear weapons from view, using special vehicles to take them from one part of the country to another so their presence would remain undetected.
But trust him, the man whom the White House manipulated; the weapons of mass destruction were there and they were threats to humanity and to the international community. There was a credible element there. It was fairly well known that Saddam Hussein was fascinated by weapons of attack, and contracted with inventors to create military field pieces capable of destroying at long distances, but most of this was nonsense, just as his attainment of nuclear weapons were, as justification of invasion.
It seems that G.W. Bush was critical of his father's decision as president during an earlier invasion to oust Iraq from Kuwait not to advance the international troops led by the United States and sanctioned by the United Nations right to the capital of Baghdad, at that time to take out Saddam Hussein; the elder Bush in his wisdom made the decision to leave Iraq intact under its Baathist tyrant. Perhaps he had a more well-rounded understanding of the violence-and-sectarian-prone demographics of the tribal Middle East than his son.
Perhaps his son was simply more arrogant in his ignorance and determined to do his father one better. Whereas France chose to stand down on this occasion, Great Britain became a champion of George W. Bush's vision as liberator of Iraq, only too happy to accept the premise that an invasion was inevitable because of the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of an Iraqi butcher. The irony is that the country that Iraq engaged in a brutal killing war for years is now on the cusp of acquiring nuclear weapons and now that Sunnis no longer sit in Baghdad's power seat, Iraq and Iran are best friends.
But it is precisely because the minority Iraqi Sunnis, in Saddam's absence, no longer control Baghdad, that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, growing out of that disempowered Sunni demographic, threatening the entire Middle East and beyond with its medieval brand of butchery now poses an international threat. When the Iraqi Shiite majority felt entitled to turning the tables on the once-powerful Sunnis, the stage was set for a sectarian revenge that would have the repercussions that has bifurcated both Iraq and its neighbour Syria.
On the one hand there is the government, no longer in full authority of the entire geography that once made up a country, and on the other there are the divisions created by rebels, Islamist jihadis and the Kurds who represent the only significantly capable and effective fighting force capable of defending the country and its disparate minority ethnic and religious parts from the atrocities of Islamic State. To admit to a 'misunderstanding' leading to a decision with such far-reaching consequences is the very least of a mea culpa pointing out the malfeasance of ignorance paired with power.