Blair, the knighthood & the living legacy – By Chris Nineham – Stop the War Coalition

“Tony Blair was responsible for Britain’s worst foreign policy decision in living memory, participation in the War on Terror, first in Afghanistan, & then in Iraq. These wars were nothing less than catastrophic for the people of both countries.”

Chris Nineham, Stop the War Coalition

Outrage at Tony Blair’s knighthood continues to grow with the protest petition on one million and growing. This makes it one of Change.org’s most popular petitions ever.

The main reason for this is simple. Tony Blair was responsible for Britain’s worst foreign policy decision in living memory, participation in the War on Terror, first in Afghanistan, and then in Iraq. These wars were nothing less than catastrophic for the people of both countries. Hundreds of thousands were killed, millions have been forced to flee and Afghanistan and Iraq remain in a state of utter breakdown.

The wars led to the needless deaths of hundreds of British soldiers. The surrounding regions were destabilised and the world has become a much more threatening and dangerous place as a result.

It is important to be clear that these were not just ‘mistakes’ as some like to describe them. Tony Blair was an enthusiast for foreign wars. In 1999 he had publicly and successfully pressured Bill Clinton in to bombing Serbia in the so called Kosovan war. The same year he made a famous speech in Chicago advocating more military intervention on ‘liberal’ grounds.

His ideas were partly shaped by advisor Robert Cooper who was pushing for a foreign policy based on ‘rougher methods of an earlier era-force pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the 19th century world of every state for itself’. When he went to meet George Bush at his ranch in Crawford Texas in April 2002, he went to give unconditional support for whatever the US was planning.

Blair’s knighthood serves to underline the fact that his legacy lives on. Despite the disasters he caused all governments since have gone along with the idea that Britain should be as warlike, heavily armed and close to Washington as possible. More failed states have followed in Libya, Syria and Yemen. Now, as “Global Britain’, we are the world’s number one supporters of Biden’s dangerously confrontational approach to Russia and China.

Anger is no doubt deepened by Blair’s dishonesty. Geoff Hoon’s recent memoir reminds us that the original legal advice over invading Iraq doubted the legality of war and was covered up, that Number 10 exaggerated Saddam Hussein military’s threat and that Blair backed Bush’s plans without telling the cabinet let alone parliament or the people.

This again was not some aberration, it was a way of doing politics. After the Crawford meeting, George Bush praised Blair for his contempt for public opinion, ‘the thing I admire about this prime minister’ the president said, ‘is that he doesn’t need a poll or a focus group to convince him of the difference between right and wrong’. It only makes matters worse that Tony Blair has made huge sums of money on the back of the carnage he created and the damage he did to democracy.

Blair’s knighthood is an insult to the families and friends of all those who were killed in his wars and to the millions who protested in Britain and around the world against the wars. The knighthood and the outrage it has caused also shows there is still a big struggle going on about the kind of world we want to live in. Stop the War has called a protest at the ceremony for the Order of the Garter at Windsor on June 13, when Blair will be knighted. Please join us and help fight for a world free from war.  

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