"There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming." 'Riverbend'
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Occasionally political life produces delicious synchronicities. In the same week that Tony Blair threw in the towel, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the most influential promoters of the war in Iraq, the event most responsible for spoiling Blair's brilliant career, begged a stony faced board of the World Bank not to forcibly remove him from his post as its president. Both men have been brought low by a war that began over four years ago.
In Umberto Eco's bestseller "The Name of the Rose", those who tried to read Aristotle's "Book on Comedy", were poisoned by just touching the pages. Although many would like to move on, "turning the page" on Iraq is just as futile. Invading Iraq was a serious strategic error which Israel's legendary military guru, Martin VanCreveld considers, "the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them" and which others have gone so far as to compare with Hitler's suicidal invasion of Russia. One of the differences between a tactical error and a strategic error is that strategic errors don’t go away, paraphrasing an old advertising slogan, they are “the gift that keeps on giving”. Like Aristotle's "Book on Comedy," they simply don’t allow their pages to be turned.
Blair's predecessor, Harold Macmillan, envisioned Britain's relationship with America's rude "new Rome" as that of the wise and cultured Greeks, but in Iraq it fell to Tony Blair to fully explore the meanings of the word "Greek", because as the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim wrote in the Guardian, "Blair failed to understand that America's really special relationship is with Israel, not Britain. Every time that George Bush had to choose between Blair and Ariel Sharon, he chose the latter." In fact, for the neocons like Wolfowitz who promoted it, the invasion of Iraq was a success until Ariel Sharon lapsed into coma. In fact, a shattered, chaotic Arab world divided into fractious "reinos de Taifas" incapable of uniting against Israel and the subsequent devastation of Iran were the invasion's true objects. Only the brilliant Sharon could ever have hoped to navigate in such chaos: the "sorcerer's apprentices" like Bush and Ehud Olmert are lost in the wreckage and Blair's career is just another broken toy.
Blair and Wolfowitz can go home now and write their memoirs, but Bush, likewise paralyzed by Iraq's poisoned pages, has a year and a half of political limbo left in the White House. Albert R. Hunt, Bloomberg's Washington bureau wrote, "Almost two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance. Bush is reviled around much of the world and has precious little political capital at home. This has enormous implications for foreign policy, domestic politics and the legislative agenda for the next year and a half." The behavior of Iran, Russia and Venezuela bear out Bloomberg's analysis. DS