Blair says Muslim “extremists” are all “the same forces”


American satirist, Jon Stewart, interviewed Tony Blair on The Daily Show broadcast on the More4 channel on 19 September 2008.  Extracts from it about Blair’s wars are reproduced below.


A striking feature revealed by the interview was that Stewart (who happens to be a Jew) is obviously much better informed about the Muslim world than Blair, under whose leadership Britain invaded two Muslim countries and who is now employed as a representative of the “international community” in Palestine, as he modestly put it. 


According to Blair, the problem is that there are Muslim “extremists”, and that’s that.  Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan, “it is actually the same forces that you’re fighting”, he says.  Yes, even though in Iraq, for example, al-Qaeda has been killing Shiite civilians in large numbers, al-Qaeda and Shiite militias in Iraq are actually “the same forces”, that is, not just allies but “the same forces”.


Did he believe this nonsense when he was Prime Minister?  Or has the man gone mad since? 


Is JP Morgan still paying him?  On his appointment, they said he “will bring our leaders and clients a unique and invaluable global perspective” [1].  This was hardly what they meant, is it?


Read on and judge for yourself:


JS:  Looking back now, you obviously wouldn’t have done it [invaded Iraq]?


TB:  No, I think that if when you go back and you look at the situation at the time, and the bloodshed that you’ve seen and the difficulty there has been, I would have been shocked, but I would have asked the question: why has this come about, why has it been so hard?  Because, after all, Saddam was removed more than five years ago, but since then we’ve been fighting the same type of battle against the same type of people that you’re fighting all over that region.  I spend a lot of time in the Middle East now as a representative of the Middle East peace process for the international community, and I can tell you there’s a fundamental struggle going on, I’m afraid, and there are two sides –


JS:  Iraq is not, you wouldn’t say that’s Islamic terrorism, that’s a very small portion of it.  Isn’t there an old British expression, and you probably know this from 1919 and David Lloyd George? It’s an old expression and it is: Don’t invade Iraq, it’s a nightmare.


TB:  Well, that’s one way of looking at it.  But another way is to say that, in the end, if the actual forces we’re fighting at the moment, al-Qaeda on the one hand, are precisely those forces of terrorism, based on a perversion of Islam, and Iranian-backed militia and they’re the people we’re fighting in Afghanistan and, you know, whether it’s in the Yemen or Algeria or Palestine or Pakistan, there’s a struggle going on.


JS:  You say, all them.  What was that list? 


TB:  No, I don’t say you have to take military action on all of them


JS:  So it’s one country at a time. In Iraq


TB:  No, no, I don’t say that.  But I do say, whether you look at Hezbollah in Lebanon, or Hamas in Palestine, or the militia and the al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is actually the same forces that you’re fighting.


JS:  Don’t they all want different things?  Hamas and Hezbollah, you could say, are absolutely localised, they have certain issues and al-Qaeda is really the only one that seems to have worldwide


TB:  You might have said that some years back –


JS:  before we invaded –


TB:  No, I don’t say that.  You know, there was September 11th and that in my view changed everything, and I agree there are elements within Hamas or Hezbollah that are just nationalist forces, but there are others that are very, very closely linked to the Iranian backed militia and to al-Qaeda.  Therefore, you know, look, none of this is easy


TB:  I think what happened once you removed Saddam and these people moved into Iraq


JS:  Aren’t we the ones who created that vacuum?


TB:  I don’t think you can say, that if you remove Saddam and then say well now the United Nations process for democratic elections, and the Iraqi people vote, and you put up the funds for development.  I don’t think it’s evitable that people come in and create terrorism.  There’s nothing inevitable about these people that go with their suicide bombs, and their terrorist attacks and kill totally innocent people.



David Morrison

25 October 2008