Going into Iraq was al-Qa’ida’s mistake
He said that the surprising thing about the decade since 11 September 2001 was the “relative failure of political Islamism”. He said: “The al-Qa’ida narrative is losing its purchase on the Arab Street.”
In answer to David Davis, the Conservative MP, Dearlove said that the Iraq war accelerated the decline of al-Qa’ida, because it made a strategic error in trying to fight the US in a guerrilla war.
Once again, Dearlove proved himself to be a political supporter of Tony Blair’s post-9/11 world view, which helps explain why they were so close over Iraq: “The right thing to do was to go out and meet that threat militantly – despite the risk of radicalisation of young Muslim men.”
He was not in favour of trying to negotiate with any part of al-Qa’ida, as it is “entirely rejectionist”.
And he ”resented” a question from The Times about the Labour government and his Service’s “cosy” relationship with the Gaddafi regime:
It was not a cosy relationship, it was a pragmatic one. It was a political decision, having very significantly disarmed Libya, for the government to co-operate with Libya on Islamist terrorism. The whole relationship was one of serious calculation about where the overall balance of our national interests stood.
Its success in disarming Libya was “phenomenal”, he said.
I was then involved in an argument with Mehdi Hasan of the New Statesman about it on Twitter. (This goes on a bit, but Mehdi lost the argument because he used a Banned List phrase first: “Blood and treasure.”)
Update: Mehdi has written a blog post about it, accusing me of linguistic fascism. And of having lost the argument.Tagged in: 9/11, iraq, richard dearlove
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