Tony Blair: Putin can’t use Iraq as justification for Ukraine – Times of India

LONDON: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair alternates between pensive and defiant as he reflects on the coming anniversaries of two events that defined arguably the best and worst of his decade in power.
Monday marks 20 years since Blair joined US President George W. Bush in launching an invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, without a UN mandate and in the face of some of Britain’s largest-ever demonstrations.
For its many critics, the war was exposed as a reckless accident when no weapons of mass destruction were found, and hampered the West’s ability to resist the rise of autocrats in Russia and China.
But Blair rejects the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin profited by defying a weakened West with his own aggression against Ukrainestarting in 2014 and extending to last year’s full invasion.
“If he didn’t use that excuse[Iraq]he would use another excuse,” Britain’s most successful Labor leader, now 69, said in an interview with AFP and other European news agencies ANSA, DPA and EFE.
Saddam, Blair noted, had sparked two regional wars, defied multiple UN resolutions and launched a chemical attack on his own people.
Ukraine, on the other hand, has a democratic government and was not a threat to its neighbors when Putin invaded.
“At least you could say we’re removing a despot and trying to introduce democracy,” Blair said at the offices of his Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in central London.
“Now you can discuss all the consequences and so on.
“His (Putin’s) intervention in the Middle East (in Syria) was to support a despot and reject a democracy. So we should treat all that propaganda with the disrespect it deserves.”
The fallout from the Iraq war hampered Blair’s own efforts as an international envoy to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians after he left office in 2007.
Blair has offices in the region through his institute and says he is “still very passionate” about promoting peace in the Middle East, even though that “seems pretty far off at the moment”.
But while there can be no settlement in Ukraine until Russia recognizes that “aggression is wrong,” he says Palestinians can learn lessons from the undisputed pinnacle of his tenure: peace in Northern Ireland.
Under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, pro-Irish militants agreed to lay down their arms and pro-British trade unionists agreed to share power after three decades of sectarian strife had claimed the lives of around 3,500.
Blair, then Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and an envoy from US President Bill Clinton spent three days and nights negotiating the final piece before the agreement was signed on April 10, 1998.
The area is today embroiled in a renewed political deadlock.
But a recent agreement between Britain and the European Union to regulate post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland has paved the way for a visit by US President Joe Biden to mark the 25th anniversary of the agreement.
Reflecting on the pro-Irish militants’ shift in strategy from the bullet to the ballot box, Blair said “it’s something I often say to the Palestinians: you have to learn from what they did”.
“They changed strategy and look at the result,” he added, denying any bias towards Israel, but only acknowledging the reality of how to negotiate peace.
“Many things are disputed and undisputed,” he added, reflecting on his tumultuous time at 10 Downing Street from 1997 to 2007.
“I suppose the only thing undisputed is probably the Good Friday Agreement.
“The thing had sort of collapsed when I came to Belfast and we had to rewrite it and agree… it’s probably been the only really successful peace process in the last period, in the last 25 years.”

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here