This failure to appreciate the complexity of the situation from Moscow’s perspective was obvious in another gratuitous lecture to Russia, this one courtesy of the former UK prime minister, Tony Blair. Writing in the Daily Mail, Blair kicked off his warmed over clichés with some cheap Nazi analogies (
“Hitler led a Europe-wide fascist movement. Putin’s war is a one-man mission”) before arguing that the West needs to “increase the supply of weapons to Ukraine, particularly its SAM (surface-to-air missile) capacity – and give a commitment that arming Ukraine will be ongoing.”
Clearly, Western leaders seem totally committed to courageously fighting the Russians down to every last Ukrainian.
More to the point, haven’t we learned from past disasters that leaders like Blair and Bush simply cannot be trusted?
As early as 1999, Tony Blair already had blood on his hands, figuratively speaking, in the Kosovo War, which saw NATO forces attack Yugoslavia without a mandate from the UN Security Council. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, some 500 Yugoslav civilians were killed over the course of the relentless 78-day NATO bombardment, which even managed to hit the Chinese Embassy, resulting in three deaths.
Disastrous as it was, the Kosovo War was just a dress rehearsal for one of the greatest humanitarian crises of modern times – the 2003 Iraq War. Amid some of the largest protests ever recorded, throngs ascended on capitals around the planet in a last-ditch effort to halt Bush and Blair’s march to war after accusing President Saddam Hussein – without a shred of evidence – of harboring weapons of mass destruction. In Rome, a crowd of three million gathered on February 15, 2003 to protest against the impending invasion, a feat that got the Italian capital entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for ‘largest anti-war rally’.
Bush and Blair arrogantly ignored this display of democracy in action, however, commencing with a ‘shock and awe’ campaign against Baghdad on March 19, 2003. To paraphrase Mark Twain, truth was still lacing up its boots while the Iraqi people were dying from outright lies, no thanks to a corporate-owned media industrial complex that refused to challenge the WMD claims until much later.
Responding to revelations that the American and British leaders had essentially lied their way into the Iraq War, the writer Michael Massing proposed a very good question to journalists after the dust had finally settled: Why didn’t the mainstream media tell us more “
about these deceptions and concealments in the months when the administration was pressing its case for regime change – when, in short, it might have made a difference?”
Not until the publication of the Iraq Inquiry in 2016, long after some one million Iraqis had been displaced, killed, and injured as a result of the illicit invasion, was it determined that
“the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”
In addition to finding that Blair had
“deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by the Iraqi regime,” the Chilcot inquiry revealed a private letter sent to George W. Bush from the UK prime minister that stated, “ I will be with you, whatever.” With those words it is a bit easier to understand why Blair was dubbed “ Bush’s poodle” in less supportive circles.
On a personal note, I believe that Russia, which has been forced to watch its ‘near afar’ transform practically overnight into a NATO training ground, is politically mature enough to discuss its controversial actions in Ukraine with just about anyone. However, when the conversation has all the hallmarks of a censored social media post, which permits pot shots and apparently even calls for violence against Russians, then the discussion will not get very far.
At the same time, Western leaders, both present and past, are certainly in no position to lecture Russia on its current behavior, whatever one may think about it. In fact, Western leaders, who ignored Moscow’s warnings for decades, must take their share of responsibility for the turmoil that is now happening in Ukraine. Only once they admit that to themselves will Russia, Ukraine, and the West be able to turn the page on this horrible chapter in its relations and move on.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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