‘Blair has finally gone mad’: London mayor ridicules ex-PM over Iraq

This combo photo shows British former prime minister Tony Blair (left) and London Mayor Boris Johnson. (AFP Photo / John Stillwell / Leon Neal)

This combo photo shows British former prime minister Tony Blair (left) and London Mayor Boris Johnson. (AFP Photo / John Stillwell / Leon Neal)


Conflict, EU, Iraq, Middle East, Opposition, Politics, Religion, Terrorism, UK, Violence, War

Tony Blair’s essay on how the Middle East should blame its own religious dynamics for its troubles – instead of Western attempts at intervention – has seen London Mayor Boris Johnson launch a scathing attack on the “unhinged” former PM.

Johnson’s strong condemnation is a reaction to the arguments
made in the former British Prime Minister’s piece entitled
‘Iraq, Syria and the Middle East,’ where
claims range from placing blame on the Shiite government in Iraq
to the inherent religious dynamics within the Middle East region,
even to Syria for allowing the recent attack on Mosul to take
place from within its borders, as well as Shiite fighters from
Iran – all to explain why militants from the Islamic State of
Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) are making such progress these

But perhaps the most off-the-wall remark that has sent everyone,
from the British press to Blair’s former party mates, to Boris
Johnson, over the edge was Blair’s claim that Britain should be
thanked, not blamed, for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Lashing out at the former Prime Minister, Johnson wrote for The
Telegraph on Sunday that “I have come to the conclusion that
Tony Blair has finally gone mad.”

His essay “struck me as unhinged in its refusal to face
facts. In discussing the disaster of modern Iraq he made
assertions that are so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly at
variance with reality that he surely needs professional
psychiatric help.”

Attacking also the former PM’s vague claim that Islam should act
more responsibly in watching out for both Shia and Sunni
extremism on its fringes (since extremism, allegedly, arises out
of thin air), Johnson writes: “He said that the allied
invasion of 2003 was in no way responsible for the present
nightmare – in which Al-Qaeda has taken control of a huge chunk
of the country and is beheading and torturing Shias, women,
Christians and anyone else who falls foul of its ghastly medieval
agenda. Tony Blair now believes that all this was ‘always, repeat
always’ going to happen.”

Not so, Johnson believes.

An Iraqi weeps as he walks away from the ministries of justice and labour following a suicide bombing on October 25, 2009. (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

“The reality is that before the US-led invasion of Iraq in
2003, there was no Al-Qaeda presence in that country, none at
Despite his brutal tyranny, “Saddam did not have
anything to do with the 9/11 attack and he did not possess
Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

Hammering the point home about just what exactly British and
American interventionism accomplished in Iraq, Johnson lays it
out simply, “The truth is that we destroyed the institutions
of authority in Iraq without having the foggiest idea what would
come next. As one senior British general has put it to me, ‘we
snipped the spinal cord’ without any plan to replace it. There
are more than 100,000 dead Iraqis who would be alive today if we
had not gone in and created the conditions for such a conflict,
to say nothing of the troops from America, Britain and other
countries who have lost their lives in the shambles.”

The London mayor makes the admission that he was among those that
voted for the war in the belief that it was the right thing to do
– after all, Saddam was considered a madman whose prolonged rule
would only bring about a further stagnation in Iraq. But because
there was no government waiting to replace him, as well as no
institutions or infrastructure set up in place for after the
devastation of the conflict, Johnson, like others, became
disillusioned with the Bush/Blair plans.

By refusing to admit the colossal miscalculations and lack of
foresight that led to Iraq’s present state a decade after
invasion, “Blair is now undermining the very cause he
advocates – the possibility of serious and effective

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) capturing dozens of Iraqi security forces members prior to transporting them to an unknown location in the Salaheddin province ahead of executing them. (AFP Photo)

“Yes, we helped cause the disaster in Iraq; but that does not
mean we are incapable of trying to make some amends. It might be
that there are specific and targeted things we could do – and,
morally, perhaps should do – to help protect the people of Iraq
from terrorism (to say nothing of Syria, where 100,000 people
have died in the past three years),”
Johnson wrote of Iraq’s
neighbor, whom Blair accused of being guilty of leading his
country into a war with extremist insurgents, while also accusing
the West of not doing more to topple the president – the Alawite
Bashar Assad, who has been fighting the same Sunni extremism
plaguing Iraq for three years now.

Johnson asserts that unless Britain, with its great military
spending and permanent seat on the UN Security Council, does not
admit to its failures as well as enjoy its successes, it would be
completely self-defeating for what it tries to accomplish.

When it comes to the question of why the Iraq invasion happened
in the first place, the London mayor alleges that the former
British leader’s whole campaign arose out of a desire to achieve
personal “grandeur.”

“Somebody needs to get on to Tony Blair and tell him to put a
sock in it – or at least to accept the reality of the disaster he
helped to engender. Then he might be worth hearing. The truth
shall set you free, Tony.”

Boris Johnson traveled to Iraq and wrote his own piece for The Spectator in May
2003, giving his thoughts on life in Iraq after Saddam Hussein.

He reminisced about how “within the space of the last
half-hour, I had slunk past a ten-year-old with an AK47 over his
shoulder, chewing the fat with his dad in the door of the
to the harrowing theme of gunfire, and his tragic
near-death experience “in a city with no recognized
after accidentally interfering with its

“It was troubling that we were preparing war against a
sovereign country that had, so far, done us no direct harm,”

Johnson wrote. Despite this, he stated that the disorder was
rampant and it wasn’t solely at the direct hands of the US but
the subsequent post-invasion turmoil.

“Weeks after the invasion, buildings are still burning, not
from missiles but from the looting. Most of the shops are shut.
There is glass everywhere, and rubbish all over the streets,
because there are no municipal services; and there are no
municipal services because civic order has broken down,”

Johnson wrote, citing the concerns of one Iraqi emphatically
questioning: “Where is our gas, our electricity? They just
make promises!”

Power is being contested on every corner, between
Shia moderates and extremists. It is being fought for by umpteen
Kurdish parties, Assyrian parties, secular parties,”

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