Interviewed on PM this afternoon, fresh from giving evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, Tony Blair spoke scornfully of ‘all those people’ treating Iran ‘softly’, which is to say, not bombing it. Presumably, ‘people’ means Barack Obama. He was speaking only days after Tunisian public rage rose up against one of those ‘Bastions against Muslim Extremism’ that replaced the ‘Bastions against Communism’. What has happened in Tunisia could happen across the Middle East.
As Patrick Cockburn points out in today’s Independent, one of Blair’s problems is ignorance:
even more damning and more destructive than what he did before the war was Mr Blair’s failure to learn much about the country after the invasion. Going by his evidence, he seems to think, as well as speak, in slogans. In his evidence he lost no opportunity to blame the Iranian hidden hand for destabilising Iraq and backing al-Qaida.
This may go down well when Mr Blair talks to paranoid Sunni rulers in the Gulf or audiences of neo-cons in the US, but very little of it is true. Iran was never likely to give much support to al-Qa’ida, which was more intent on slaughtering Shia in Iraq than killing Americans.
Oscar Wilde was wrong about ignorance: it is not a ‘delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.’ It is a hardy perennial.