Monday, 21 September 2009

We miss you Tony, cont'd

When he's not blathering on about faith, Tony Blair still talks a lot of sense. Interviewed today on MSNBC's Morning Joe, he had some characteristically forthright things to say about Afghanistan and the Middle East. Some nuggets:

There is a virus of extremism and there are two potential strategies to deal with it….one is to try and manage it, the other is to try and eradicate it. Personally, I think you have no option but to try and eradicate it.

We’ve got to understand we are in a long, protracted struggle. This was a generation growing, this extremism, and it may take us a generation to knock it out. But if we leave it, it will not stay dormant.

One thing’s just very clear. For Israel, it would be intolerable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I think the issue for us is how can we make sure, and let us hope so diplomatically, that we can prevent that happening.

Here's the whole interview. The pretext is his report for the UN on climate change, but if you just want to hear the foreign policy stuff, it kicks in about half way through:


Richard T said...

If there were no nuclear devices in the area between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean then your condemnation of Iranian ambitions for nuclear power status would be apposite. It is not since the Israelis have the bomb and their present government does not seem to be other than unsavoury in its mix of super nationalism and expansionism. If I were an Iranian I might look with a high degree of unease at the eastern border where there is a failing state with a nuclear capability whose military and intelligence establishment have been hand in glove with al qaeda (spelt wrong I know) and the Taliban both of which are inimical to the Shi'ite regime. If either group got influence on the Pakistan government then there is genuine political difficulty for Iran.

This is not to condone the present regime which is simply abhorrent but to swallow our late Dear Leader's piety and bias towards the Israeli regime (the assault on Lebanon for example)without looking at the drivers on Iran is to disregard realpolitik.

Martin said...

Fair points, Richard. But looking for rational justifications for the Islamic Republic's desire for nuclear weapons is probably a waste of time. OK, so it's worried about Afghanistan, but it's had a hand in creating a few 'failed states' of its own, with its attempts to destabilise post-Saddam Iraq, and its sponsoring of terrorism in Lebanon and Gaza. I'm not very happy about Israel's nuclear arsenal either, but I think it has more reason to feel isolated and threatened by its neighbours (judging by history) than Iran.

Richard T said...

Martin, my position is one of acynical realist who tries to understand how and why governments and polities react by looking at interests rather than overt stances. In passing, I'm not althogether sure that the Iranians needed to do too much to de-stabilise post Saddam Iraq since under the naive views of Bush, buttressed by Blair, a democratic state was sought and tht democratic state had a majority of Shi'ites who surprisingly have voted in a Shi'ite majority goverment. To me, the destruction of the secular Ba'ath party was a more than a mistake.

I didn't mention one other area where I have believed that the Iranians might have had reason to look over their shoulders. I saw and still see the US and Israeli support for the Georgian government (which came unstuck both through backing a virulent nationalist horse and because they didn't take Russia into account) as a backdoor means of being able to bomb Iran without passing over Jordan and Iraq. The violation of Azerbaijani airspace would not matter desparately to them.

Again, I don't seek to condone but simply to try to understand. Now you may think me wrong but I think there is some plausibilty in my understadning which goes to explain how and why stances are taken.