On Meet the Press Sunday morning, host David Gregory challenged former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to defend his and former President George W Bush’s decision to switch focus from the war in Afghanistan to the one in Iraq, asking if that simultaneously diverted resources from fighting the Taliban while radicalizing terrorist groups in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.
“Isn’t the legacy of your leadership and that of President Bush in part responsible for the reality today?” Gregory asked. “Did the west fail to deal with the extremism you talk about today appropriately in Afghanistan in a sustainable way?” […]
“We make a huge error when we end up thinking somehow it’s our actions that caused this,” Blair said. “In Afghanistan and Iraq, we removed brutal dictatorships, allowed the people a chance to elect their government, they came out in both cases and voted, showing that they wanted such elections, gave them massive financial support. What was the disruptive effect? The disruptive effect was that very Islamist ideology I’m talking about on the one side being pushed out of Iran from the Iranian theocracy, on the other side al Qaeda and other groups, and they combined to try to destabilize the wishes of the majority of the country. Now, when we weren’t involved, as in Syria, they’re still going to fight jihad there.”