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Tony Blair’s Middle East speech: dangerous and anti-Muslim

on 32 Comments
Tony Blair

Tony Blair, in an earlier appearance

Tony Blair’s big speech on the Middle East yesterday shows he has learned nothing from his catastrophic foreign policy failures as British prime minister.  Blair’s arrogance and stupidity will be analyzed at length in the days to come, but here is a preliminary look.

Blair revives the thoroughly discredited “clash of civilizations” theory to argue that Islamic extremism “is spreading across the world,” and that it “represents the biggest threat to global security of the 21st century.”

He barely mentions Israel, and then only to portray it as an innocent, which he praises because it “has successfully stayed aloof from the storm around it.”

But the worst part of the speech — which borders on the criminal — is when he dishonestly insinuates that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was violent, and he justifies the anti-democratic coup that overthrew it last year.  “The revolt of 30 June 2013 was not an ordinary protest,” Blair said.  “It was the absolutely necessary rescue of a nation.”

Let us pause for a moment to consider the sinister implications of Blair’s statement.  The Financial Times just yesterday ran a long article under the headline “Egypt’s black holes,” which said, “Thousands of government opponents have disappeared into secret jails, which critics warn are radicalising a new generation of jihadis.”

This mass imprisonment follows the crackdown last year in which government forces killed hundreds of people, most of them nonviolent Brotherhood supporters. Human rights organizations have thoroughly documented these crimes — but the former prime minister of Britain just goes right ahead and tells the Egyptian military state to keep killing and jailing.

To list all of Blair’s stupidities would require more space than his actual speech. Here is just one quick example: Part of Blair’s indictment of Islamic extremism includes his assertion,

“For the last 40/50 years, there has been a steady stream of funding, proselytising, organising and promulgating coming out of the Middle East, pushing views of religion that are narrow minded and dangerous.”

Does Blair think we are as stupid as he is?  This ‘steady stream of proselytising’ has emanated from Saudi Arabia, the West’s biggest ally in the region; what’s more, Saudi Arabia hates the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, enthusiastically endorsed its overthrow, and is spending billions to prop up the military regime that replaced it. So much for the “clash of civilizations,” which posits a unified extremist, Islamic juggernaut.

Why did Blair make this speech?  One paragraph contains a clue. He mentions “the enormous commitment of Iraq and Afghanistan” — his euphemism for the full-scale invasions that he helped carry out — and he adds:

“It may well be that in time people come to view the impact of those engagements differently.”

Blair’s wooden language is a sly, roundabout effort to justify the Iraq disaster, and his responsibility for it.  If Islamic extremism is clearly “the biggest threat to global security” today, then maybe he and his friend George W. Bush were right to confront it back in 2003, (although he must hope we forget that “Islamic extremism” in Iraq actually grew after Saddam Hussein fell).  If he needs to endorse killing and mass imprisonment in Egypt today so he can rehabilitate his reputation, he has no more qualms than he did back when he lied so he could order British soldiers to invade Iraq.


James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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32 Responses

  1. Justpassingby on April 24, 2014, 12:04 pm

    This man is an idiot and hes part of the “quartet” what a joke!
    Actually he praised Israel quite a bit, I read a comment somewhere saying Tony Blair wished he was a jew.

    I wonder what type of book hes reading, authors like pamela geller?

  2. edwin on April 24, 2014, 12:11 pm

    The Iraq war, which started in 2003, has caused the deaths of between 100,000 and one million people, depending on whose estimate you believe. Two men were ultimately responsible for the decision to start it: George W Bush and Tony Blair.

    Bush and Blair claim that they were provoked into starting the war by the imminent threat Iraq presented to world peace. They further maintain that the war was legal. A series of leaked documents shows not only that these contentions are untrue, but that Bush and Blair knew they were untrue.

    Blair is definitely a nasty piece of work.

    • ThorsteinVeblen2012 on April 24, 2014, 1:20 pm

      If you believe Bush and Blair there were merely 100,000 killed not the million other sources describe.

      If you believe Bush and Blair …

      Who would do that at this point in history?

  3. eljay on April 24, 2014, 12:15 pm

    >> Blair … argue[s] that Islamic extremism … “represents the biggest threat to global security of the 21st century.”

    Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, recently said that Russia’s actions involving Ukraine pose “the greatest threat to world peace and security“.

    Which donkey-fellater are you going to believe?

    • Denis on April 24, 2014, 12:42 pm

      In spite of having made my share of sporting trips to Tijuana while in the Marine Corps many years ago, I honestly have to admit that I was not aware that term existed. “Donkey” I was aware of.

      Thank you, eljay, for your erudition and for raising the standards of this blog.

      • eljay on April 24, 2014, 1:06 pm

        >> … I was not aware that term existed. … Thank you, eljay, for your erudition and for raising the standards of this blog.

        You’re welcome. Stick around and keep learning.

      • saramus on April 25, 2014, 10:19 am

        Actually, the term is “fellator.” Latin is a lot more fun than most people these days realize; it is impressively rich in obscenities, euphemisms, and metaphors that current politicians deserve as much as those of ancient Rome. I highly recommend J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982)–a tome I have treasured over the years.

      • piotr on April 24, 2014, 1:44 pm
      • Denis on April 25, 2014, 9:37 am

        I couldn’t get that vid of the SNL piece to run. But the following link was hot.

        Very funny. Incredibly clever the way they pulled the skit and then made it available online so that the story became about censoring the skit.

        Uncle Abe Foxman is such a piece of art. The Cliven Bundy of the Israel-first movement. Even LiveLeak is afraid of him. Note their all-caps caveat, which really means: WE ARE NOT THE ANTI-SEMITES HERE, SNL IS

        Censored: Chuck Hagel SNL Skit, Israel Love Fest…Hilarious
        Chuck Hagel SNL Skit….for the ones who get their panties in a bunch….THIS IS AN SNL SKIT AND IS MEANT TO BE HUMOROUS….IF YOU DONT HAVE HUMOR DONT WATCH IT

  4. Sycamores on April 24, 2014, 12:38 pm

    on the same day of Blair’s speech Huffington post printed

    Iraq War Chilcot Report Should Be Published Immediately, Says Ex-Blair Attorney General Lord Morris

    Iraq War Chilcot Report when publish will hopefully see Blair get his just desserts.

  5. pabelmont on April 24, 2014, 1:21 pm

    Blair is sure which side of his bread is buttered. He doesn’t recognize that his position is doomed to fail, because his position is not assumed for UK’s sake, or for peace, or for decency, but only to keep that BIG-ZION money flowing to his coffers.

    He is thus like so many retired USA pols who continue to merit their continuing receipt of $$$ by demonstrating, again and again, their fealty (a feudalistic term meaning loyalty to a feudal master) to one of the great Barons of our day, BIG-ZION.

    American pols begin earning money from BIG-ZION when collecting campaign contributions. They continue, after they leave office, by collecting handsome speaking fees and such like. These after-office receipts are quite visible to all pols still in office and constitute a sort of guarantee that the bribe-like $$ that flowed to docile pols-in-office will continue to flow in retirement. Blair’s appointment as a $$$-paid member of Quartet (yes; what a joke!) is merely an extreme example of a large payout in return for loyalty to BIG-ZION.

    And Mr. Blair is nothing if not loyal to the hand that feeds him.

    Let the poor and oppressed of the world weep and gnash their teeth, Mr. Blair knows what side his bread is buttered on. And where his loyalty lies. As the UK version of the song goes, “With sun-shiny faces, we all know our places”, and Mr. Blair knows that his place is defending BIG-ZION — though the heavens fall.

  6. American on April 24, 2014, 1:22 pm

    Blair is a has been US poodle doggie and now shills for whoever or whatever will pay him and let him pretend he matters.
    Who actually even listens to him?
    He’s a total joke as far as I can see and is only news worthy when he makes ridiculous speeches like this.
    Which I am pretty sure is why he does it.
    One of those elites who fell from elitedom.
    The Saudis should buy themselves a current elite not a has been elite.

  7. Maximus Decimus Meridius on April 24, 2014, 1:23 pm

    ”Does Blair think we are as stupid as he is?”

    I don’t think he cares.

    Blair has been out of mainstream politics – which at least gave him a semblance of dealing with ‘ordinary folks’ – for several years. He now spends all his time with the global political and financial elite. He really hasn’t got a clue what the average Joe or Jane is thinking, and he doesn’t care. After all, they aren’t the ones who pay his obscene salaries, or glibly applaud his horrible speeches. They/we don’t matter.

    Blair barely even dares to appear in public in his own country these days. A few years ago, his book signing had to be cancelled for fear that his odious presence would create public disorder. The man is a disgrace.

  8. Nevada Ned on April 24, 2014, 2:56 pm

    James North, you mention that Saudi Arabia sponsors militant Islamic forces. You could have added that the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia helped create the Taliban and Al Quaida, in order to defeat the Soviets and their sponsored government in Afghanistan. It was the largest covert operation ever launched by the CIA. Osama Bin Laden was a US ally. Of course, after the Islamic forces (Taliban and Al Quaida) defeated the Soviets, they took on other projects, including the attack on the USS Cole, and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (An earlier attempt to blow up the World Trade Center was only a partial success).

    Rashid Khalidi has written, “It may seem hard to believe today, but for decades the United States was in fact a major patron, indeed in some respects the major patron, of earlier incarnations” of radical, militant Islam, in order to use all possible resources in waging the Cold War. He adds, “The Cold War was over, but its tragic sequels, its toxic debris, and its unexploded mines continued to cause great harm, in ways largely unrecognized in American discourse.”[24] [source: Khalidi entry in Wikipedia]

  9. upsidedownism on April 24, 2014, 6:06 pm

    “For the last 40/50 years, there has been a steady stream of funding, proselytising, organising and promulgating coming out of the Middle East, pushing views of religion that are narrow minded and dangerous.”

    As good a definition of Zionism as any.

  10. Bumblebye on April 24, 2014, 6:17 pm

    I was listening to this a couple of hours ago – highly topical:

    The Muslim Brotherhood in Britain

    “So why has David Cameron called for an investigation into their activities now?

    In this edition of The Report, Peter Marshall hears claims that this review is less about national security, and more about appeasing the rulers of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, who are ideologically opposed to the Brotherhood. The UAE and Saudi Arabia also happen to have lucrative contracts with British businesses.

    The programme also reveals how senior members of the Conservative party have been raising concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood for several years – in particular the Brotherhood’s ties to Hamas – and so the new investigation is perhaps not a complete surprise.”

    The prog includes comments from a former counter terror cop who seems to have favorable views of the Brotherhood – and is available to listen now.

  11. James Canning on April 24, 2014, 7:52 pm

    Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times had some trenchant observations about Tony Blair’s speech, at FT.COM blogs (no paywall for non-subscribers).

  12. piotr on April 24, 2014, 8:27 pm

    Reading Tony Blair with the assumption that he is sane and sincere may be dangerous to mental health. One of the gems of the speech: “At the root of the crisis lies a radicalised and politicised view of Islam, an ideology that distorts and warps Islam’s true message. ”

    The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) would definitely agree, to paraphrase “there will be 72 sects of Muslim, one, with true faith, will go to Paradise and the rest to the Lake of Fire.” So it is of utmost importance to determine what the “true message” is. Not merely because of mundane problems with a terrorist here or dangerous government there, which are transient problems after all, but the sad fate of the folks destined for the Lake of Fire is a more profound concern. By the way, I am seriously concerned about Blair himself: he was was Anglican, which seems the best possible faith and the he converted to Catholicism? On the positive note, he at least cares about a correct choice of a faith to follow, but what attracted him to Catholicism? Opposition to birth control, or to imperialism and wanton warfare? Or he is more comfortable with celibate male priests?

    But if we identified the central issue, distortion of the true message of Islam, why do we forget about it after one measly paragraph? Shouldn’t we identify the true faith (but if it is not Catholicism, what is it?) and establish policies how to handle heresy etc.?

    • Bumblebye on April 24, 2014, 9:21 pm

      Mrs B and the kids are RC. And there’s young Leo’s surprise arrival. He sort of let it be known his wish to join the RC’s was long time. Which rather cynically he did very soon after leaving public office – Anglicanism was ‘better’ for his career.

  13. Daniel Rich on April 24, 2014, 9:00 pm

    Note to editor;

    …. in Egypt today so he can to rehabilitate his reputation

    Should be;

    … in Egypt today so he can to rehabilitate his reputation


    … in Egypt today so he is or will be able to rehabilitate his reputation

  14. Bumblebye on April 24, 2014, 9:30 pm

    Craig Murray’s take on Blair’s dangerous and stupid speech:

    “The greatest boost ever received by Islamic fundamentalism was the invasion of Iraq. Closely followed by extraordinary rendition, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and drones, and Israeli bombings of Gaza. All of those things lead some Muslims to believe a violent response by terrorism is required to defend themselves. So for Tony Blair, who has promoted huge hatred and caused unnumbered deaths through a career of deceit and self-enrichment, to warn about the dangers of Islamic terrorism is something nobody but a few Guardian and Murdoch acolytes wish to hear.”

    He also reminds of some of the colonial pressures fomenting radicalism – in China, Russia, Africa.

  15. Baldur on April 24, 2014, 11:30 pm

    “It may well be that in time people come to view the impact of those engagements differently.”

    That’s funny he would say that. The US’ wars in the ME must have been a boon for the recruitment rates of Islamic extremists. I find it extremely contradictory to be Tony Blair, still defend the pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today, and at the same time warn about Islamic extremism. If anything, Tony Blair has been the best imaginable (under reasonable circumstances) ally of Islamic extremists.

  16. kalithea on April 25, 2014, 12:16 am

    Blair is a war criminal, a bigotted buffoon and yes a Ziodonkey fellater. The bottom of my shoe is too good for this scumbag.

    Caption for photo: Buaaah! My big mouth is fullllllll of unexploited wealth; but even my dentist wants nothing to do with it!

    • Denis on April 25, 2014, 5:34 pm

      Oh, gosh. Now it’s ziodonkey fellater. My vocabulary list is growing by leaps and blows with this post.

      A ziodonkey is not something I have ever come across, but I’m betting one can spot them b/c they are circumscribed — which is to say, of a delimited class.

      Or perhaps ziodonkey is a political analogy for, say, Chuck Schumer, which would suggest the existence of zioelephants and their fellaters. What a gag that would be.

  17. puppies on April 25, 2014, 2:08 am

    The fact that Blair is still walking free is enough to show the real market value of the PA’s joining the ICC, the Geneva Convention, etc. Zilch.

    The fact that Blair is still alive is the best proof that the fear of terrorism is way exaggerated.

  18. marty_mcfly on April 25, 2014, 6:46 am

    Whenever I see this fraudster-cum-war-criminal still walking around free like nothing happened it makes my blood boil.

    This helped a bit:

  19. Feathers on April 25, 2014, 9:04 am

    Do Blair and his co-conspirators seek to head off an Iranian-style revolution by aiding the present Egypt government in disappearing Muslims and others that are not under the control of western powers?

    Iran is always the bogey-man; it’s reasonable to read between the lines to find its shade in Blair/British/US/Israel commentary.

    As Flynt & Hillary Mann Leverett argue, the PTB’s problem with Iran is that it resists western hegemony, in financial as well as what US pundits euphemistically mendaciously call “liberty and democracy” terms. For example, the Leveretts argue that “Iran’s government will be Islamic because that is what the majority of the Iranian people want.”

  20. petersz on April 25, 2014, 11:21 am

    Looking forward to George Galloway’s film on the war criminal:- “The Killing of Tony Blair”, where he raised the money on Kickstarter. When is the sequel for his accomplices GW Bush and Dick Cheney?

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