I have not watched the interview, so I don’t see how this comment can be seen as an olive branch, but I will reserve judgment until I have the full context. In my opinion the olive branches need to be extended by those who are trying to tear their own country to bits and who are kidnapping and torturing and murdering innocent people. But hey, that’s just me.
Tony Blair admitted that British intervention in Iraq has been a disaster last night – sending shockwaves through Westminster.
In his frankest admission about the war to date, Mr Blair admitted that Western forces have been powerless to stop the descent into violence.
The Prime Minister stopped short of accepting the blame for plunging Iraq to the brink of civil war – blaming instead the insurgent uprising that has killed 125 British troops.
But his admission in an interview with the Arab new channel Al Jazeera will be seen as an historic climbdown for Mr Blair, who has always fought to put a positive gloss on often disastrous events.
Challenged by veteran interviewer Sir David Frost that the Western invasion of Iraq has “so far been pretty much of a disaster”, Mr Blair said: “It has.”
His words were last night seen as an olive branch to other states in the Middle East and his critics at home.
During the interview, Sir David suggested that the West’s intervention in Iraq had “so far been pretty much of a disaster”.
Blair replied: “It has, but you see what I say to people is why is it difficult in Iraq? It’s not difficult because of some accident in planning, it’s difficult because there’s a deliberate strategy – al-Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other – to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace
is displaced by the will of the minority for war.” That doesn’t exactly sound like an olive branch to me, but then maybe that is why I don’t work for the mainstream media. Sounds to me like the following explanation from Downing Street makes sense. Blair did agree, but then immediately referred three times to the situation as “difficult,” not a disaster. Of course, Blair’s detractors took the occasion to demand an apology. How completely predictable.
Reacting to his comments, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said the Prime Minister should now apologise for his actions.
He said: “At long last the enormity of the decision to take military action against Iraq is being accepted by the Prime Minister.
“It could hardly be otherwise as the failure of strategy becomes so clear.
“If the Prime Minister accepts that it is a ‘disaster’ then surely Parliament and the British people who were given a flawed prospectus are entitled to an apology.”
A Downing Street spokeswoman said Blair did not believe that the violence in Iraq had been a disaster.
“He was simply acknowledging the question in a polite way before going on to explain his view.
“To portray it as some kind of admission is completely disingenuous,” the spokeswoman told the BBC.
Update II: John Hinderaker says the headlines chosen by the BBC and others are more wishful thinking than anything. He couldn’t be more right.