Michael Flynn, ex-Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, concludes an interview with Der Spiegel saying "The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision". From that failure, from Blair's lies and manipulations, came a string of subsequent errors via Libya to Syria each one of which has helped Islamic State to grow into the risk it now poses.
Flynn contrasts the style of Bin Laden with that of al-Baghdadi; Bin Laden was the Che figure, the warrior guru in his cave with an AK47. The first time we saw al-Baghdadi it was robed like the pope in a pulpit proclaiming the caliphate, which has a currency, a flag, an HR department and a slick PR outfit. Just like the EU, but with more supporters. Different ISIS murderers wear different pattern skirts, in uniform black, camo or other. They have a flat organisational structure with high levels of autonomy granted to dispersed killers; the traditional terrorist structures of cells sharing controllers in a pyramid trying to communicate secretly has been bypassed by motivated death cultists dispersed throughout Europe with a mission to kill, maim, frighten, disrupt in schemes of their own devising. Destroying the caliphate won't make us safer - the killers don't depend on it for instructions or consent.
So even if we destroyed the caliphate in its territory tomorrow the death cultists would remain, like cancer cells after the removal of a tumour. And the mutant gene that precipitated it all, Blair's 2003 war, must be judged harshly indeed. As must Blair himself.
Cameron's imaginary friends
It's likely that on Wednesday the Commons will agree to our three or four aircraft in theatre flying sorties into Syria, and probably using their munitions on one sortie in five. In other words, we'll make the square root of bugger-all difference. One of the papers had a huge graphic of how our brilliant UK missiles at £100k a pop delivered from a £10m aircraft costing £80k an hour to fly could hit a bloke on a motorcycle. I suspect using Ronnie Pickering would be cheaper and rather more entertaining.
Cameron's 70,000 imaginary friends get a ragging from Fisky in the Indie "Telling the House of Commons about the 70,000 “moderate” fighters
deployed in Syria was not just lying in the sense that Tony Blair lied –
because Blair persuaded himself to believe in his own dishonesty – but
something approaching burlesque. It was whimsy – ridiculous, comic,
grotesque, ludicrous. It came close to a unique form of tragic
Which pretty well sums up the whole ghastly mess.
Bring out more rope ..
In my condemnation of the barbarian head-choppers of the KSA I have neglected to mention the dedicated crane-hangers of Persia. This year they're set to hang over 1,000 people, about 70% of whom were sentenced for drug offences involving over 5kg of Class A. That's an awful lot of drugs. Either they've got a very serious domestic addiction problem or a lot of Iranians desperate to get rich quick.
However, since we haven't tried to impose Cameron-democracy on them, the overall number of Iranians being killed prematurely is remarkably small compared to the national beneficiaries of western goodwill such as Libya. Which leaves plenty of Iranians to fight for Syria against ISIS as real, and not imaginary, ground troops.