It is to be hoped that Tony Blair’s new role as Middle East Envoy will allow him to break away from being an apologist for the neo-conservative hardliners in the Bush administration, but based on a recent speech it seems that is unlikely. The Guardian this morning reported that Blair has said, speaking of “militant Islam” that:
This ideology now has a state, Iran, that is prepared to back and finance terror in the pursuit of destabilising countries whose people wish to live in peace.
That statement shows a continuation of the neo-conservatives’ tendency to radically over-simplify their statements about Iran and militant Islam, to de-emphasise strategic interests, to skip over the Sunni/Shia divide in the Islamic world and to leave out other vital details.
Unlike Britain and the US, Iran is situated in the Middle East and its strategic decisions regarding the area are fraught with complexity arising from the presence of hostile (US) forces on its major borders. If it allies itself with radical groups in order to confront that threat (and very little evidence has been offered for the recent allegations) it is likely that it is doing so on strategic, and not ideological grounds.
It is highly likely that any new alliances Iran is making are significantly less ideological than those which led the US to support the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden a few decades back. Reductionist statements like Blair’s may help underline the rhythm of the drums of war, but they are dangerously shallow and pose no less of a threat to global stability than those of the Iranian leadership.