James Forsyth

Blair’s warning

Blair's warning
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David Aaronovitch’s piece in The Times today based on his interviews with the former Prime Minister and his associates for his The Blair Years series on the BBC is fascinating. Once again Blair reiterates that he did Iraq because he believed that it was the right thing to do. His concluding remarks, though, are grim:

“The enemy that we are fighting I am afraid has learnt . . . that our stomach for this fight is limited and I believe they think they can wait us out. Our determination has got to match theirs and our will has got to be stronger than theirs and at the moment I think it is probably not.”

There will be lots of people who will not take kindly to being told this by Blair but it is one of the key points in this struggle. Bin Laden’s own statements show how much the US withdrawal from Somalia following the Black Hawk down incident convinced him in his belief that the West was essentially weak. One of the most important things about the success of the surge in Iraq is that it is demonstrating than when the United States suffers a setback it doesn’t leave the field but adjusts its tactics. 

Perhaps as important as stomach in this fight is patience. As Matt has argued, the West is confronting an enemy that explicitly sees this as a generational struggle while Western publics and elite remain fixated on time frames that owe more to the electoral cycle than anything else. At some point, there is going need to be a realisation that whoever is president or prime minister and from whatever party, this issue will not go away. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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