18 November, 2006

Tony Blair calls Iraq a "disaster".

The main news story in the UK this morning is Tony Blair saying on al Jazeera that invasion of Iraq is a "disaster". The BBC, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, the Guardian and the Times all cover the story.

Strangely al Jazeera itself emphasises Blair's remarks that if Iran changes its ways, it could play a role in the Middle East. I say strangely because for once Al Jazz, rather than the British media, seems to have got the perspective right. Blair's linkage of Iran with the ME is the key story because of the future problems it could cause for Israel and, indeed, the west. The UK is only playing a limited role in Iraq which remains a predominantly US operation. The Americans are finding Iraq difficult, as was always going to be the case, but that is not the same as saying it is a disaster. It is not. Good progress has been made and, although terrorist insurgents remain a problem, all remains to play for. The Democrats have not yet turned Iraq into a disaster.

The question the UK press should be asking is , if it is such a disaster why has the government still got British troops in the country? No, although there is clearly potential for things to go badly wrong, there is, as yet, no disaster in Iraq. Rather, this is probably part of a strategy I noted earlier this week of Blair distancing himself from Bush in the wake of the US election results. The headlines should read, "Bush stabbed in back by Blair". Or, if you prefer the tabloid version, "British rat leaves sinking US ship".

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