19.12.06

Blair gets smacked by UK Think Tank appraisal of his performance as Bush's lap-dog

Al Jazeera English - Europe:

Terrible mistake

The report said Blair's support for the US-led invasion of Iraq was a 'terrible mistake' leading to a 'debacle' that will have repercussions on policy for years. It said: 'The root failure [of Blair's foreign policy] has been the inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way despite the sacrifice - military, political and financial - that the United Kingdom has made.'

Chatham House also said that the British prime minister had been unable to prevent Britain's standing in the Middle East from sliding.

The report also said Blair had been slow to realise the consequences of a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan on the back of drug-trafficking. It said this was 'unforgivable given the link between heroin consumption on British streets and the strengthening of warlordism in Afghanistan'.

Lord Wallace, former director of studies at Chatham House, told Al Jazeera's Inside Story programme that the UK did not wield influence over the US as popular perception is led to believe.

'There is a lot of myth about how special our relationship is with the US. We shouldn't assume that we are more special than Washington's other allies,' he said. On Blair's recent visit to the Middle East, Lord Wallace, said: 'It would have been a much more effective trip if Blair was visiting the Middle East representing Europe rather than being seen as the mouth piece of George Bush [the US president].'

A link to the full Chatham House working paper is here.

It is indeed a shame that Blair did not listen to this group in 2004 when Chatham House published a paper outlining the bleak prospect ahead for Iraq, summarized here:
Unfortunately for the region, the future of Iraq resides on a precipice, with many powerful forces pulling like gravity in the direction of the abyss. The hope is that briefing papers such as this can provide sage advice to policy makers who can admit their numerous and repeated mistakes and correct their folly in time to derail the oncoming disaster. Maybe it is too late for that though. After reading this report I am reminded of this passage from a Seymour Hersh article:

Ehud Barak, the former Israeli Prime Minister, who supported the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq, took it upon himself at this point to privately warn Vice-President Dick Cheney that America had lost in Iraq; according to an American close to Barak, he said that Israel "had learned that there's no way to win an occupation." The only issue, Barak told Cheney, "was choosing the size of your humiliation." Cheney did not respond to Barak's assessment. [emphasis added]

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