One of these two is a self confessed liar – and it’s not the one on the left.
The abandonment of Afghanistan and its people is tragic, dangerous, unnecessary, not in their interests and not in ours … We didn’t need to do it. We chose to do it. We did it in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending “the forever wars”, as if our engagement in 2021 was remotely comparable to our commitment 20 or even 10 years ago, and in circumstances in which troop numbers had declined to a minimum and no allied soldier had lost their life in combat for 18 months.
Tony Blair should go to Afghanistan.
… promoters of western militarism are fuming about the idea of ending the forever wars … literally using that phrase, “ending the forever wars”, as a bad thing. What a bizarre hill to die on. How warped does your sense of reality have to be to think this a view anyone who isn’t paid by defense contractors could possibly be sympathetic to? 2
Jacobin, 30/08/21 – The Latest US Air Strike in Afghanistan Is a Microcosm for the Entire, Terrible War
Is Blair insane? I ask this in all sincerity as one who never much cared for the Bliar moniker, and not just because I dislike its inherent childishness. I do dislike that aspect, it’s true – it speaks to me in painful terms of how impotent the voices of protest truly are – but my bigger objection is that I sense in Blair less the dodgy salesman of a Richard Nixon; more the man whose grip on reality is self-serving, for sure, but all the more effectively so for being thoroughly delusional. 3
I’ll rest my case on the claim which ends my opening quote. It’s straight from the horse’s mouth, a reference to the fact that ‘no allied soldier had lost their life in combat for 18 months’.
Had this come from a Nixon, a Kissinger or, let me bring this up to date, former Sunday School teacher Mike “we lied, we cheated, we stole” Pompeo, I’d know it – or to be tediously precise, the construction put on it – for the flat out whopper it would have been. No allied soldier had been killed in Afghanistan in eighteen months because the invader cut a deal with the invaded. The Taliban would hold back on attacking the occupiers’ forces on condition the latter called time on twenty years of uninvited stay –
– and got the hell out of Afghanistan. Because if they didn’t, said the Taliban, at pains for there to be no misconstruing the point, the body bags would once more be flying home to grieving voters. So Blair’s logic is akin to my (a) getting bailiffs off my back by agreeing a repayment schedule with my creditors, then (b) citing the fact the bailiffs are for now leaving me in peace as an excellent reason to renege on said agreement.
Or, again to be tediously precise, as evidence I should never have made it in the first place.
But it was not a Nixon, Kissinger or Pompeo who came out with this gob-smacking syllogism. It was one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair and, because it was Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, I have no great difficulty believing the first person to be persuaded by its Alice-in sagacity would have been, well, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.
* * *
- Blair’s piece – Why We Must Not Abandon the People of Afghanistan – is worth reading in full. Not for its quality, but as an aid to assessing its author’s sanity. Since appearing nine days ago at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, it has been picked up by The Independent. Writing in Defend Democracy Now, Andrew Mitrovic, author of the second of my three opening quotes, starts: ‘Robert Fisk would not be amused by [his erstwhile employer’s] bewildering decision to republish 2,700 words of exculpatory blather by a preening, historically illiterate dilettante Fisk detested.’
- Caitlin implies Blair is “paid by defense contractors”. In narrow terms she may or may not be accurate. (I’m no investigative journalist, far less a libel lawyer.) But a search on “who pays Tony Blair” elicits the lucrative extent of his connections with the wealth and power which benefits from the vast profits made by the ‘defense’ sectors, and/or the grossly exploitative north-south relations underpinned by those sectors. This 2017 piece in Jacobin packs enough factual detail to justify its title – Tony Blair’s Ghoulish Last Decade.
- My distinction – liar Nixon v self deluder Blair – is relative not absolute, quantitative not qualitative. Outside of comic book fiction, evil doers do not rise from their beds rubbing their hands, Mr Burns style, in anticipatory glee at what luscious dark deed ops the day may bring. Our need for self respect and a sense of worth is hard wired. Just as all cynics are made deeply stupid, so do the most harmful sociopaths go mad. It’s the only way to square the circle, to manage cognitive dissonance between how we need to see ourselves, and what we get up to. A weak grasp on objective reality is a small price to pay for easing the fit.
- I say the military contractors have been the sole beneficiaries but in the longer term China, Russia, in all likelihood Iran and – Blair’s opening sentence notwithstanding – Afghanistan too stand to gain. For reasons given elsewhere, I’m relaxed about that. New world order? Bring it on! For most people that on earth do dwell, the old one is rotten – but what would Tony Blair know of that?
- As she so often has, Caitlin hits the nail on its head: ‘They had twenty years to build a stable nation in Afghanistan. Twenty years. If you believe that’s what they were really trying to do there, or that results would be any different if you gave them twenty more, you’re a fucking moron …’ (Cited in this August 15 post.)