Monday, August 01, 2005

Bush's Bastards: Blowback, Blunder and Blair

Again from the Guardian: David Clark, once one of Tony Blair's top advisers, renders harsh but true judgment on his former boss -- and on the ungodly mess Blair and his boss have made of their Babylonian Conquest.

Even When We Leave Iraq, We Face Years of Blowback

Some excerpts:
When Tony Blair says we should not "give one inch" to the terrorists, what he really means is that he isn't prepared to give one inch to those who say he blundered by invading Iraq. It's difficult to respect a prime minister who is prepared to put his own hunger for vindication before a serious attempt to understand where the war on terror is going wrong...

...The likely shape of things to come has been the rise of the Shia Islamist bloc that now controls a majority in the Iraqi parliament. Coalition strategists are putting a brave face on this by stressing the supposedly moderate and democratic credentials of these "new Islamists". But you do not need to look very far into the past to see how unlikely this is. The new prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, was feted on a recent trip to the White House, but his hosts conveniently chose to forget that fact that his Dawa party was suspected of involvement in a string of terrorist attacks against western interests, including the 1983 bombings of the US embassy in Kuwait and the US marine barracks in Beirut. The latter, the worst act of terrorism against the US prior to 9/11, killed 241 American peacekeepers. In those days Dawa acted under the guidance of the Iranian intelligence services.

...Today both he and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of the main Shia party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), make all the right noises about pluralism and national unity. But this is so out of step with their ideology and backgrounds that it is hard to see it as a sincere account of their plans for Iraq.

It is also demonstrably out of step with the reality on the ground. Where they are already in control, the Shia parties are enforcing an increasingly repressive religious code. In Basra, formerly one of the most liberal cities in Iraq, there has been a clampdown on the sale of alcohol, singing in public, short haircuts and women without headscarves. Beatings have been administered to male doctors who treat female patients and students attending a mixed-sex picnic. These measures are enforced by militias such as the Badr Brigade, affiliated to Sciri, which also controls the local police....

...The invasion of Iraq has frequently been described as the biggest diplomatic blunder since Suez. This already looks like a considerable understatement. On a worst-case scenario that now seems possible, it could very well come to be seen as one of the greatest foreign-policy own goals of all time.