Saturday, May 19, 2007

Spencer Ackerman on the Legacy of Tony Blair

Playing "Greeks to American Romans," as Harold MacMillan put it, was a winning strategy for British politicians for a long time. Not for Tony Blair. Spencer Ackerman sums it up:

toohotfortnr: it's a crying shame, you left a trail of destruction: Michael Gerson and Tony Blair, Gladstonians against the Horde:

In our conversation, Blair would not be drawn into second-guessing on failures in early stages of the Iraq war -- troop levels, de-Baathification and the like. Those debates, while "perfectly legitimate," do not account for decisive factors beyond the control of the coalition, particularly the bombing campaign of al-Qaeda and Iran's strategy of "containing America" by seeking to "bog them down in Iraq."

"If those two external elements were not there, this thing would be very nearly manageable," Blair told me. "Sometimes you have to come to a very simple conclusion, which is that your enemies decided to fight you."

This is an exculpation? That al-Qaeda would make use of the U.S.'s position of occupying an Arab (mostly) country? Or that Iran would seek to turn its encirclement by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to its advantage? And that the U.S. would find those two developments to be nearly insurmountable amid the other rigors of occupying Iraq? Even if Gerson's infatuation with a morality of intentions can't penetrate the veneer of what's happened in Iraq, Blair should know that a foreign policy that invites a "decisive" response from its adversaries can't possibly survive. And if the point of it all is to nurture human rights while protecting one's interests, then neither objective is served by its collapse.

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