Tony Blair on Egypt and Syria: efficacy more important that democracy

To the surprise of nobody at all peace envoy Tony Blair, thinks we need another war, sorry, intervention in Syria. What he’s just said about Egypt illustrates why it has always been a terrible idea to listen to him.

The former prime minister said the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government and the involvement of Iran in the civil war meant intervention was necessary.

“You’ve got the intervention of Hezbollah, at the instigation of Iran. The other big change is the use of chemical weapons. Once you allow that to happen – and this will be the first time since Saddam used them in the 1980s – you run the risk of it then becoming an acceptable form of warfare, for both sides,” he told the Times.

I hate to go on about underpants gnomes when we are perhaps only hours away from war but…this is the normal schema for middle eastern adventures, at least as sold to us plebs.

  1. Western intervention
  2. ???
  3. Liberal Democracy

I’ve not had much to criticise on step one or three, comparably speaking. The US and its allies can definitely defeat pretty much any developing state on earth. Liberal Democracy ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, but at least its an ethos man. It’s the middle bit that’s caused the problem. For problem read “pile of corpses.”

The middle steps have always been hazy, but the plan has always been to step in when our “duty to protect” kicks in and to lead the intervened state towards liberal democracy with local characteristics. I think it’s a testament to how awful things in Syria are that nobody is honestly suggesting we know what we would do next. Like a dog chasing a car nobody knows what to do once we’ve got one.

I’ve always kinda thought that Blair, Bush and their fellow travellers didn’t have a plan but hoped things would kinda work out. I think a lot of them are genuinely bummed it didn’t work out. Not Blair though, he seems to have dropped the commitment to Liberal Democracy altogether. Behold:

Tony Blair: “The events that led to the Egyptian army’s removal of President Mohamed Morsi confronted the military with a simple choice: intervention or chaos. Seventeen million people on the streets are not the same as an election. But it as an awesome manifestation of power.”

“I am a strong supporter of democracy. But democratic government doesn’t on its own mean effective government. Today efficacy is the challenge.”

Support for “efficacy” now trumps “democracy.” On a basic level I agree with Tony, that many people protesting matters and should be listened to (ahem), but what matters more in the developing world is bedding in democratic institutions. If the ??? ever meant anything it was the difficult bargaining and institutional development that has now stalled or regressed in Egypt.

So what are we left with now that Liberal Democracy has been ditched as an end goal and that we will not support any “messiness” following the intervention? That plan for Syria in full:

  1. Western intervention