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Lord Rees-Mogg
Lord Rees-Mogg
This lecture has been podcast
This lecture has been podcast
photo by Nic Delves-Broughton, University Photographer

Press Release - 23 February 2007

Iraq could have a better ending than Afghanistan, says peer

Iraq is more likely to have a peaceful solution to its troubles than Afghanistan, said the former Times editor Lord Rees-Mogg, speaking at a public lecture at the University of Bath last night.

He said that the people of Iraq will reach a point where the anarchy in their country becomes unbearable, and they will eventually rise up and fight against those insurgents who are responsible.

Afghanistan, however, has a 2,500 year old warrior tradition, and recent success in “turning out” foreign troops, that will make it difficult to achieve the kind of modern society with liberal values that Tony Blair aspires to achieve.

Lord Rees-Mogg criticised the Prime Minister for holding an idealistic view of what can be achieved through international intervention without the pragmatism of truly great statesmen such as Abraham Lincoln and Otto von Bismarck.

He said whilst Tony Blair’s vision for Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland had undoubtedly made life better in those regions, the British and NATO experience in Kosovo should have come as a warning before the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He said: “Because Tony Blair sees vividly what he wants to achieve, he believes that it is attainable, but that is where he is mistaken.

“Tony Blair and President Bush wanted to do good, albeit with elements of self-interest.

“Isn’t it sad that they will go down in history as having recklessly destroyed what otherwise may have been a more peaceful area.”

Lord Rees-Mogg, who famously predicted the arrival of glasnost in the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, also described the US as being “the British Empire of 100 years ago” and warned that its declining economy and its international commitments will bring its influence to an end.

Lord Rees-Mogg served as editor of The Times newspaper from 1967 to 1981, and still writes comment pieces for the paper.

The lecture was organised by the University of Bath and the RSA as a regular series of talks on international relations.

The lecture will be podcast on the University of Bath Public Lecture Podcast (see related links)

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