Blair was right on Iraq, it isn’t our fault and to say so is an insidious lie
Iraq is in crisis, although it seems it will survive the all out assault on it from the group known as ISIS, these attacks are a serious setback for a country ravaged by sectarianism, fascism and war for the past two decades. Indeed even if the Prime Minister Mr Maliki does survive as foreign powers lose confidence in his abilities to lead the fractured country it is a long way back. However much of the analysis on the left has been to say we should essentially let Iraq burn like we have done with Syria. That the recovery of ISIS is a result of the policy of foreign intervention in Iraq in 2003 is a nonsense, as is the claim some have even made that our intervention in Iraq is responsible for the creation of Al-Qaeda. ISIS were militarily defeated after the surge in 2007 and it seemed they were long gone from the picture of terror which ripped across Iraq by Jihadist militants, whom our intellectual left failed to admonish enough, instead focussing on our troops who were trying to keep the forces of nihilism at bay. The United States and the UK government have been concerned about what to do about this latest disaster in the region. After spending nearly a decade in Iraq it has fallen into chaos and destruction a mere three years after leaving it and no obvious solution has presented itself.
ISIS’ new popularity and its success has stemmed from the disaster policy in Syria. The lack of intervention in Syria has achieved mass destruction in the region which has ensured a broken state and has managed to destabilise a region by allowing a proxy war between Iran and the Gulf states to rage on unchecked. Syria is now a country with nine million people displaced (double that of the Iraq war), almost 200,000 dead, and has left the slobbering Assad in control of chemical weapons such as chlorine gas which he is actively using against civilians who dare to question his rule. Not only has the lack of intervention led to this it has also led to the resurgence of extremist fighters in the region who were on the backfoot. As the proxy war which Iran is backing on the side Mr Assad has inflamed, it has increased the polarity of the opposition. From Hezbollah militants committing horrendous crimes on behalf of the Iranian state, and the Quds force giving advice on how to defeat not only ISIS but moderate groups such as the National Coalition of Syrian and Opposition Forces, to the opposition being hijacked due to a lack of external support which has allowed groups like Jahbat-Al Nusra and ISIS to occupy the fertile recruiting soil of trying to overthrow a very nasty tyrant. While the Anti-war left were having a collective orgasm at the British parliament denying military assistance to the moderate rebels they failed to stop and think of the consequence of such an action. Iraq destabilizing in this way has been the consequence. Anti war commentators such as Salma Yaqoob have repeated the argument such as the one said on Question time it was a regional question which required a regional response, sadly Salma Yaqoob has failed to realise that unlike in some situations if you do nothing, nothing will happen, in foreign policy of this nature every action even inaction will have a reaction. The emergence of ISIS has been the reaction to our Syrian foreign policy.
While it is the case that intervention especially badly planned ones can act as a recruitment tool. The lack of intervention in situations which demand it also acts as a tool for recruitment for extremist forces. As Maajid Nawaz argues in his book, one of the ways in which Hizb Ut Tahrir, an islamist organisation which are particularly insidious recruited was through the lack of intervention earlier in Bosnia as Mr Milosevic went on an ethnic cleansing spree. This lack of intervention was cited as a recruiting gift to islamist forces who argued the western nations have no care when their own interests are not threatened. Of course the ‘Anti-war’ movement backed the move for non intervention while genocide was taking place, after all it wasn’t just Iraq the ‘Anti-war’ movement were against but the intervention in Bosnia and Afghanistan. The examples which can be given of non intervention such as in Rwanda shows that while many may criticize the policy of intervention, the policy of non intervention can be even more insidious, not only acting as a recruiting tool for the worst elements but also showing that you either do not care or even worse give tacit consent for such awful behaviour to go on in a nation state.
There is no doubt the problems in the Middle East are complex and difficult. They range from sectarian tensions to a new form of cold war in the Middle East, none of the problems are ones we can solve by sitting on the sidelines and ignoring the emerging threat. While Iraq may be blamed for many things it is a blatant lie to blame it for the re-emergence of ISIS. While the invasion may have given the recruitment tools to enable this frankenstein monster to exist, it also dealt with it on the battlefield after the surge. There is no doubt the re-emergence of ISIS has come from our lack of action in Syria which has ensured the moderate voices which started this revolution have been all but drowned out. The greatest irony of this is that the Anti-war movement are ironically responsible for a greater escalation of violence in the region, and the disintegration of moderate voices in the region.