The Observer published ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s latest article on the 25th of January, 2014. You can find it here. The article initially argues that misguided religiousness is the crux of terrorism, and will continue to be, unless we expunge the roots of hate-preaching. For this reason, Blair warns: “The battles of this century are less likely to be the product of extreme political ideology – like those of the 20th century –but they could easily be fought around the questions of cultural or religious difference”.
In addition, the Middle East Peace Envoy also highlights the marvelousness of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation: “When I left office […] I established a foundation whose aim is to promote greater knowledge and understanding between people of different faiths”. He expands further, “It is a call to respect those of all faiths and not to allow faith to divide us but instead to embody the true values of compassion”.
Unfortunately, the piece fails to contextualize any of the wars in the 20th century which, Blair himself admits, were caused by “extreme political ideology”. In light of this, one would be forgiven for suspecting that TBFF’s international soon-to-be minor degree level courses also overlook the cause and effect of American and British intervention in the Middle East. On one hand, Blair underscores the immeasurable repercussions of tolerating the continuation of fanatical religious propaganda. On the other, he is feeding and revitalizing the roots of hate-preaching in both the West and the Middle East by withholding political truths. This convenient selectiveness could have grave implications.
Consequently, without harbouring any intention to construct a history essay, it is requisite to respect the context of America and Great Britain’s interventions in the Middle East.
On the 14th of February 69 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt met with King Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia on the U.S. Navy cruiser Quincy in an attempt to persuade the monarch to safeguard the expansion of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine. Abdul-Aziz reproached this proposition. However, as the ship continued to drift along the Great Bitter Lake, the cheerful conversation steered towards a ground-breaking agreement. In short, Roosevelt agreed to provide the service of U.S. military troops, jets and weapons in exchange for access to Saudi Aramco’s oil resources. To this day, Saudi Aramco possesses the largest amount of identified oil reserves in the world. The company is also recognized as the most valuable business on earth. Roosevelt prioritized commercial and geopolitical interests before his, and the nation’s religious principles in 1945.
Fast-forward to 1953. The popularly elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, repressed the British owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s (now known as BP) control of Iranian oil exportation by nationalizing the Abadan Refinery and the rest of the industry as he argued: “The moral aspect of oil nationalization is more important than its economic aspect”. Winston Churchill responded by calling him: “An elderly lunatic bent on wrecking his country and handing it over to the Communists”. Subsequently, the MI5 and the CIA orchestrated and actuated the 1953 Iranian coup d’état and the re-empowerment of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi – commonly referred to as the Shah. Significantly, ex-President D. Eisenhower’s diary, President Barack Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo, and more recently, Ben Affleck’s Argo acknowledge this. If Churchill and Eisenhower aimed to ‘plant’ and propagate democracy in the Middle East, why did they overthrow the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran? Mossadegh’s political demise was not driven by religious preferences.
For the next 26 years, the Shah preserved ‘crucial deliveries of Iranian oil to the West, while US assistance […] gave the shah the most advanced military machine in the Middle East’,and also upheld high taxes and oil prices in a benighted endeavour to westernize Iran. Uncontrolled economic expansion instigated inflation; inflation prompted a reduction in government spending; a reduction in government spending elicited a recession; a recession provoked pervasive poverty.
‘I don’t know where this White Revolution is that they are making so much fuss about. God knows I am aware of (and my awareness causes me concern) the remote villages and provinces, of the hunger of our agrarian population’, bemoaned Ayotallah Khomeini.
For these reasons, Khomeini synchronously deplored the Shah and the Western elite: “You wretched, miserable man, forty-five years of your life has passed. Isn’t it time […] to ponder where all this is leading you?” – “They are friends of the dollar. They have no religion, no loyalty”.
“Let the American President know that in the eyes of the Iranian people, he is the most repulsive member of the human race today because of the injustice he has imposed on our Muslim nation”.
The physical consequences of the Western elite and the Shah’s unquenchable unilateralist desires summoned Khomeini’s call for an Islamic revolution; not a hereditary hatred for Christianity. This call eventually galvanized ‘as many as nine million’ Iranian protesters into dethroning the Shah in 1978. The U.S. State Department viewed them as supporters of communism.
In 1980, the Iraqi army infiltrated the Iranian border and attacked Khomeini’s Islamic Republic. After Saddam Hussein’s belligerents were subdued and forced to retreat to Iraq, ex-President Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior’s administrations agreed to provide intelligence for Hussein, and also sold him the following chemical materials:
Tantamount to this, Britain ‘sold Iraq the drug pralidoxine’. Pralidoxine can be manipulated to engineer sarin gas – the same nerve agent that fatally suffocated more than 1,000 Syrian citizens inside Damascus last year – and indeed it was. Hussein exerted the aforementioned supplies to murder tens of thousands of Iranian troops in the Iran-Iraq War.
Bush Junior’s The Axis of Evil speech claimed: “Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade”, after his father had sold Hussein the ingredients for such remorseless recipes. In an effort to accelerate the War in Iraq, Tony Blair declared to a Commons committee in 2003: “I have absolutely no doubt at all that we will find evidence of weapons of mass destruction programmes”. Of course he didn’t – 10 Downing Street probably still stored the receipts to remind him where they were. What impelled the Western Military Industrial Complex to perceive and portray a regime which they had supported for just under 10 years as despotic and intercontinentally dangerous? Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Why? There seem to be two reasons. One, because Washington feared Saddam Hussein’s 100,000 soldiers and 700 tanks were about to penetrate the Saudi Arabian border and jeopardise the same indispensable oil reserves King Abdul-Aziz traded to Franklin Roosevelt in 1945. It is for this reason, Bush Senior stationed over 500,000 American troops in Saudi Arabia (not Kuwait) and threatened to introduce more as the Gulf War continued. Two, Iraq retains the second largest amount of identified oil reserves on the planet. In the words of ex-US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz: “The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil”.
Between 1995 and 2000, Dick Cheney was the chairman and CEO of an oil company named Halliburton. Bush Junior appointed Cheney as the Vice President of the United States in 2001. Before and during the War in Iraq, at least 70 companies received contracts to go into Afghanistan and Iraq. The number one recipient of contracts was Vice President Cheney’s former company, Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR. Substantially, KBR received 39.5 billion dollars’ worth of contracts. According to investigative journalist and the founder of The Center for Public Integrity, Charles Lewis, Dick Cheney’s personal net worth ‘went from $1m to $60m or $70m in the span of five years’ as a result of this.
King Abdul-Aziz’s loathing of the Jewish community was not a problem; the Shah’s willingness to repeatedly authorize mass genocide against anyone who was opposed to his autocratic regime was not a problem; Saddam Hussein’s heinous creation and usage of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Iran-Iraq War was not a problem. “The problem is that the good Lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas reserves where there are democratic governments” – Dick Cheney.
In consideration of this, it is foolish to believe the recent attacks on the Taverna Du Liban in Kabul, the Iraqi Military Recruiting Center in Baghdad, or the massacre in the Christian village of Sadad, were solely instigated by a misguided belief that the perpetrator will go to a paradise replete with rivers of milk, lakes of honey, and the service of 72 virgins. It is more likely that such terrorists wrongly associate the victims of their crimes with the historical and current pioneers of their and their families’ suffering. No. Tony Blair’s illusory self-portrayal of being a Catholic or Christian who is on a mission of benevolent assimilation is not going to help things, but the forthcoming publication of the Chilcot report, or failing that, Sir Richard Dearlove’s ‘record of events’ might.