Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair is back in the headlines urging the West to get more deeply involved in the Russia-Ukraine war. Blair, who along with President George W. Bush, was one of the architects of the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, writes in The Telegraph that Vladimir Putin “must be stopped” and that “We have no alternative but to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Twenty years ago, then-Prime Minister Blair told the House of Commons why it was necessary to go to war against Iraq. He invoked Czechoslovakia, Hitler, the Nazis and Munich. He fancied himself a modern Churchill calling on the Western powers to fight for “freedom, democracy and tolerance.” It was too late, he said, to “talk, to discuss, to debate, but never to act; to declare our will but not to enforce it; to combine strong language with weak intentions.” He mentioned the “grim” nature of Saddam Hussein’s rule and the need to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam’s evil dictatorship. “This is not the time to falter,” Blair said. It instead was the time “to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right, to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk, to show at the moment of decision that we have the courage to do the right thing.” In subsequent speeches, Blair doubled-down on the need to fight those wars and the broader Global War on Terror. “This is not the time to err on the side of caution; not a time to weigh the risks to an infinite balance,” he said in April 2004. Yet after the futility of the endless wars, in March 2022, Blair admitted he “may have been wrong” about the decision to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.
Blair now warns us about Putin’s “imperial vision” and again raises the specter of Munich by claiming that Putin wants to destroy the independence of the nations of Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Central Asia. And if China provides “active support for Russia,” that would constitute a “red line for our relationship.” “Only when Putin understands that our resolve will not wane,” Blair again playing Churchill writes, “can we begin to hope that the conflict will end sooner rather than later.” “The only option” for Putin, Blair writes, “is to withdraw--and never engage in such madness again.” The West, he writes, needs to ramp up the manufacture and supply of “essential material” to Ukraine. And Blair calls for a “broader” Western strategy not just against Russia but also in Africa.
Why should anyone listen to this failed leader whose judgment about past wars was so unsound. In 2016, Blair issued a partial mea culpa about his past war leadership by expressing “sorrow, regret and apology” for his mistakes related to the wars. Blair issued the apology in the wake of a report that accused him of deliberately lying to Parliament and the British people about the wars, including by exaggerating the threat posed by Iraq’s regime. That report also concluded that Blair chose war before exhausting peaceful options, decided on war in a “perfunctory” manner, relied on flawed intelligence, ignored warnings about an insurgency and civil war resulting from the invasion, and lacked a post-invasion strategy.
Blair and other modern day Churchills neglect to mention that Churchill viewed Hitler and the Nazis as an exceptional threat, but later in 1954 said “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” Very few Western leaders today are publicly promoting a negotiated settlement to the Ukraine war. Instead, they talk about victory over Russia, regime change in Moscow, and trying Putin as a war criminal--the very opposite of diplomacy designed to end this war. That kind of talk, however, could very well provoke a wounded Russian bear to widen the war. No one should wish for that. But if we listen to the likes of Tony Blair, that may be the outcome.
Source: Real Clear Defense