Iraq War: Blair, blinded by the Enlightenment
1 February 2010
At the Chilcot inquiry, Tony Blair expressed no regrets over his decision to join the war in Iraq. Bruce Anderson in the Independent argues that he was driven by a typical delusion of Enlightenment thinking, that it is possible to reshape human nature and the world in the West’s image.
Tony Blair has an almost Shakespearian ability to capture a great world on a small stage. But it was not just good theatre. Mr Blair set out to transcend narrow legalities. He invited us to interpret his actions in the broadest of contexts: to stop taking a magnifying glass to the small print and to judge his good faith by his global ambitions. Yet even if we were to accept his invitation, this would not turn him into Henry V or Prospero. It would be the Tragedy of Tony Blair, part of a sequence which begins with the Tragedy of the West in the Middle East, and which could end with the Tragedy of the Human Race.
It was once suggested to Stephen Hawking that there could be no intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, for if there had been, it would have found a way to communicate with us. The Professor disagreed. He said that by the time any intelligent beings might have been able to reach across the interstellar vastnesses, they would already have used their power to destroy themselves. In the course of this century, the human race could well provide evidence in support of the Hawking thesis. The forces of destruction may prove greater than the resources of civilisation.
Large modern states can command immense military power; imagine Napoleon's envy. But the growth in war-fighting capability has not been accompanied by an improvement in war-planning wisdom. It is easy to start wars. As Napoleon's example could teach us, it is far harder to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion. When you are as strong as the West, it is possible to alter the destiny of other nations and continents. Before doing so, it is vital to think through the consequences. The failure to do so was the real failure in Iraq. Read full article in the Independent...