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Andy Goff says that it was a simple choice as he watched Tony Blair on telly yesterday. Kick in the set, or write this...

Watching Tony Blair on Andrew Marr's Sunday AM show was not the way to start a gentle Sunday. Watching this smarmiest of disingenuous self-servers always has a debilitating effect on my faith in my fellow man. This pre-conference interview plumbed hitherto hidden depths of my despair.

One moment the jokey grinning schoolboy, then the serious statesman, then the victim of nasty interviewers asking the wrong questions, he swung through his repertoire of public emotions in his usual manner.

There was one point where Marr said: “The National Security Council in America believes that the threat of terrorism has been seriously increased by what happened in Iraq.”

Blair replied: “ I don't think that terrorism has increased as a result of Iraq or Afghanistan.”

Later he went on to wheel out this canard the Government has started bandying as a stock answer.

"Look, 9/11 happened before Iraq or Afghanistan." This, for once in Blair's life, is factually correct, but fails to take in to account what created the situation that led to 9/11 and further confirms his self-delusional failings.

Fortunately for me, in need of some expert background, I happened to read a critical comment by the acclaimed writer William Dalrymple.

He was reviewing two books in The Sunday Times Culture section.

One book was by Michael Gove, Tory neo-con, former writer for The Times and currently MP for Surrey Heath. The other was the highly regarded The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda's road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright.

Dalrymple lays into Michael Gove, describing him as having “…. little knowledge of Islamic history, theology or culture” He goes on.... “Gove's book (Celsius 7/7) is a confused epic of simplistic incomprehension, riddled with more factual errors and misconceptions than any other text I have come across in two decades of reviewing books on this subject.”

Later in the review he explains that it was the violent repression that followed Israel's unilateral ending of peace talks that formed the backdrop to the September 2001 attacks.

Indeed, that review provided a lot of interesting background and was obviously more worth reading than Michael Gove's attempt to position himself as “one of Britain's leading writers and thinkers on terrorism” as it says on the book's dust jacket.

The point is that 9/11 happened to America because of American policies in the Middle East. 7/7 happened because of Tony Blair's stupidity in blindly allying Britain with those policies. Thus our activities in Iraq and Afghanistan HAVE made us, in Britain, more vulnerable to terrorist attack. Regardless of what Tony Blair “believes”.

Bin Laden asked, “Why did (Al-Qaeda) not attack Sweden?” Al-Qaeda took the war to the enemies of Islam instead of just fighting on their homelands.

Consider the way Britain and America have supported despotic rulers all round the world at the cost of indigenous populations and it is hardly surprising that the anger this generates will come back to haunt the perpetrators.

Suffice to say I won't be reading Michael Gove's book and I find it scary that we have a “leading” Conservative, apparently with influence, showing as much ignorance of the ways of Johnny Foreigner as Tony Blair.

We need our politicians to have a fundamental understanding of other cultures, but most of all we need them to understand history. Otherwise we are forever doomed to re-enact the failed policies of our predecessors over and over again.


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