IT’S not advisable to read Tony Blair’s statement about Afghanistan, published last Saturday, on an empty stomach. To reach the end of this dark, 2500-word fantasy and to digest it thoroughly requires an iron constitution. It helps too that you are in possession of some facts which Britain’s last Labour prime minister chooses to overlook.

Most salient of these is the one with which most of us may be familiar, but which Blair – in his arrogance – hopes that the passage of 20 years may have erased from our memories: that he took Britain to war in Iraq on a lie and, in so doing, sacrificed the lives of young British soldiers.

Many others flowed from this one. The illegal war in Iraq was the beginning of the road to perdition that led directly to the fall of Kabul and more multitudes of refugees. The chaotic waging of it – the bombing of innocent Iraqi and Afghan civilians the demonisation of Islam, the exploitation of it by the Halliburton cartels – acted as a massive campaign of recruitment for those in the Arab world with grievances – both real and imagined – against the West.

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Even as President George W Bush and his British glove-puppet were seeking to convince the “civilised” world that their war was moral and necessary questions were being asked about the real motivations. It soon became apparent that some of America’s biggest corporations had secured multi-billion-pound contracts prior to the invasion to rebuild a country already devastated by civil war. Following the money in these transactions leads you directly to the inner sanctum of the Bush presidency.

The National: George W Bush with Tony Blair

Later, after a leak to The Observer newspaper, it was revealed that the US, backed by the UK, had sought to bribe weaker members of the UN to support the call to war. Years of breathless propaganda by the BBC and the right-wing press – high on emotion and sentimentality – imbued the war with mystical and spiritual properties. We were effectively being told that this was the tenth crusade to the Holy Land 750 years after the ninth one.

Who knows how long it will take for the truth of what was really happening in Afghanistan these last 20 years to emerge. Here’s a handy hint: whatever you’re hearing on the BBC’s daily bulletins from Kabul airport or in the UK press is a one-sided distortion of it, fuelled by the sanctimonious emotionalism that characterised coverage of the Iraq debacle.

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In this we are being asked to believe that a rudimentary, ill-equipped fighting force is deeply unpopular in Afghanistan, yet was somehow able to re-take a country in just eight weeks after 20 years, billions of dollars and high-class Western expertise. Whatever a trillion dollars gets you these days it obviously doesn’t extend to military training, intelligence gathering or who was pocketing much of the money. Just as Halliburton, Bechtel and the Carlyle Group filled their boots in Iraq post-2003 another generation of Western capitalists have enjoyed another Middle East Klondyke these last 20 years.

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Innocent Afghan civilians and the fate of women in the post-Taliban world are being used as currency to buy into this production. This also requires that we remain impervious to the suffering of women and girls in Saudi Arabia and how that gangster state routinely tortures and murders dissidents before dismembering them and disposing of them in foreign embassies.

Saudi Arabia though, is one of the biggest and most valuable customers of the UK arms sector. The UK and Nato will happily do business with anyone provided there’s a profit in it for BigCorp.

Blair’s hand-wringing hypocrisy makes mention too of how “radical Islam” came to flourish in post-revolution Iran after 1979. Naturally, he overlooks the western-backed corruption and human rights abuses of the deposed Shah and how Britain and the US gave him and his family safe passage with the fortune he amassed at the expense of the Iranian people.

Blair’s deployment of the term “radical Islam” wretchedly encapsulates 1000 years of ignorantly racist attitudes towards the Arab world by the West. In every case it’s used as a moral fig leaf to hide the real reasons why we insinuate ourselves into the affairs of a region thousands of miles distant: capital and empire, and all of it to spin money and influence for a tiny few.

Blair expands on his “radical Islam” theory. “This ideology in different forms, and with varying degrees of extremism, has been almost 100 years in gestation,” he says.

Later he adds: “It is the turning of the religion of Islam into a political ideology and, of necessity, an exclusionary and extreme one because in a multi-faith and multicultural world, it holds there is only one true faith and we should all conform to it.”

This is ignorant and dangerous on so many levels, not the least of which is the inconvenient truth that US policy in the region is largely informed by a distorted, militant and deformed strain of Christianity. This too contends that there can only be one faith and more besides: that salvation requires you to believe that the accumulation of wealth and military hardware is the will of God.

It travels on the medieval model of an eye for an eye. It’s used to justify the National Rifle Association and the state-sanctioned frying of its prisoners. The mad mullahs – the religious bogeymen of western hysteria – are replicated in the fundamentalist US preachers who call down hellfire on gay culture; idiosyncratic sex, Socialism and dancing.

Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist of Donald Trump, undertook a European tour to build a Western coalition against radical Islam. It hooked up with an esoteric assortment of Eastern European strongmen and media moguls eager to be part of something that carried the imprimatur of the White House. There were dollar signs lighting up all over the place.

Catholic bishops and Protestant fundamentalists eagerly embraced it on the shaky pretence that Trump, in his opposition to abortion, was doing God’s work. It was the language and imagery of the 12th century crusades and now Tony Blair is channelling it too.

The prospect of sustainable peace and stability in the Middle East won’t turn on whether or not we defeat the Taliban or Al-Qaeda or Daesh. It will rest on ditching the Jihadi Christianity that Tony Blair and Donald Trump and Joe Biden and the Nato war machine have used to justify their ruinous presence in these lands for centuries.