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JIM SPENCE: Tony Blair needs to crawl back into his shell on Afghanistan

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In his hypocrisy over Afghanistan Tony Blair strangely reminds me of a famous old legal case.

Concerning a dead snail, it began in Scotland and ended up in the House of Lords.

And as a former lawyer he might have usefully paid more attention to it.

Instead he is scaling new heights of duplicity as he pontificates about the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In an article on his own website this week, he describes it as a decision made “in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars’”.

Rather than pronouncing on an issue for which he bears great responsibility, the former PM would be better advised to crawl back into his shell.

This is a man who sent British troops into Afghanistan and Iraq. The combined cost to them is 636 dead, and thousands more left with life changing injuries.

Blair’s decisions have left a slimy trail of devastation.

I’m among the many millions who think we should never have been in Afghanistan or Iraq in the first place.

We were there because Tony Blair wanted to stride the world stage in action man camouflages – but to do it from the safety of a war bunker under Whitehall.

The former Prime Minister, along with George Bush, sent thousands of other people’s sons and daughters to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq which led to mass death and destruction.

But he shows no sign of embarrassment when he says Britain has a “moral obligation” to stay in Afghanistan until “all those who need to be are evacuated”.

Despite rivalling Roman deity Janus with his two faces he isn’t wrong on this particular issue.

He’s just shameless.

Tony Blair and Bush set UK on this path

There’s no doubt President Joe Biden has made a dogs breakfast of his shambolic pullout of US forces, which has left thousands at the mercy of the gangsters of the Taliban.

However, Blair’s protests point out the ramifications of his own gung-ho warmongering when he was PM.

I’m no pacifist, I firmly believe in the defence of the realm from foreign aggressors.

But I don’t believe in becoming the aggressor unless there is absolutely no other course of action available.

When Tony Blair foolishly followed Bush in his follies abroad he set the UK on a path which led inexorably to the madness that now looks likely to engulf Afghanistan.

British and US troops helping in the evacuation of people out of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Tony Blair, a lawyer to trade before entering politics, would have done well to remind himself 20 years ago of the dictum in the landmark case Donoghue v Stevenson.

It’s one which every first year law student knows by heart.

And it was the case that helped shape the modern law around negligence and the general duty of care.

Lord Atkin, delivering the leading judgement, found there was a duty in law of reasonable care, to avoid acts or omissions which were reasonably foreseeable as likely to injure your neighbour.

Atkin’s answer to who in law is your neighbour? was “persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question”.

The curious case of the Paisley snail

That bit of legalese has stood the test of time in thousands of negligence cases since 1932.

The ruling had nothing to do with the grim art of war. It concerned a case of gastro enteritis caused to May Donoghue after drinking from a bottle of ginger beer.

The beer, consumed in a Paisley café, contained the decomposed remains of a dead snail.

It may seem a far cry from the theatres of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the responsibilities around negligence and duty of care hold true.

Except Blair’s original behaviour has led to much more than the severe case of stomach upset which befell Mrs Donoghue.

It has caused death and destruction and shattered lives on a huge scale.

It was clearly reasonably foreseeable how many folk would be closely and directly affected by Blair’s reckless blundering into the affairs of other countries.

And it was completely reasonably foreseeable to all but the wilfully blind that the course of action he plunged the UK into two decades ago would have the deadly effects which we’ve seen over the past 20 years.

We may well witness them even more brutally in future, as the Taliban get to work on spreading their 19th century brand of liberation theology – starting with liberating women from their hard won rights.

Tony Blair has a case to answer

No one knows what the outcome will be in Afghanistan.

It’s possible the Taliban won’t have it all their own way. Various well armed factions may be about to fight for their own share of the spoils.

Tony Blair has much to answer for though and his moralistic posing at this time is beyond parody.

He helped create this unholy mess.

And if he’d had the nous of a true statesman and followed the harm principle in Donghue v Stevenson, we wouldn’t be witnessing the disaster emerging in Kabul.