Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was challenged to defend his and former U.S. President George W. Bush’s decision to change focus from the war in Afghanistan to the one in Iraq — and Blair wasn’t buying into host David Gregory’s theory of what the move may have led to.
“Isn’t the legacy of your leadership and that of President Bush in part responsible for the reality today?” Gregory asked on the Sunday program. “Did the west fail to deal with the extremism you talk about today appropriately in Afghanistan in a sustainable way?”
“I think we did,” Blair said. “But I think we’ve got to recognize one thing very, very clearly. This is a long battle…This ideology is not going to be defeated by an engagement in Afghanistan, in Iraq, or even in these individual arenas. It’s going to be defeated over a long period of time.”
Later Blair added: “We make a huge error when we end up thinking somehow it’s our actions that have caused this…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 election.
“We gave them a massive amount of 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 and destabilize the wishes of the majority of the country. Now, when we weren’t involved, as in Syria, they’re still going and fighting jihad there.”
Blair summed up the theory that it was his and Bush’s fault as “nonsense.”
Watch the clip below, via NBC News: