Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Friday, May 18, 2007

  A stirring defense of Tony Blair

Michael "Axis of Evil" Gerson pens a stirring send-off to Tony Blair in tomorrow's Washington Post.

More than that of any other world leader, Blair's foreign policy approach is a rigorous, logical argument.

The late Robin Cook in his diary:

This was the parliamentary debate in which the prime minister presented the now notorious dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. I had been familiar with previous secret reporting on Iraq, and when I came to read the dossier I was surprised that there was so little new material in it. There was no new evidence that I could find of a dramatic increase in threat requiring urgent invasion.

Intelligence is supposed to be the evidence on which ministers reach decisions on foreign and defence policy. It is not meant to be the propaganda by which ministers sell a policy to a sceptical public. Nor are intelligence reports suited for the purpose. At the Foreign Office I regularly saw the assessments of the joint intelligence committee (JIC)...

The dossier did violence to their craft in two ways.

First, it painted only a one-sided picture, whereas every JIC assessment I saw would honestly present any contrary evidence that might be inconsistent with the final conclusion. Second, it definitely proclaimed a certitude for its claims that was at odds with the nuanced tone of every JIC assessment I read...


The second troubling element to our conversation was that Tony did not try to argue me out of the view that Saddam did not have real weapons of mass destruction that were designed for strategic use against city populations and capable of being delivered with reliability over long distances. I had now expressed that view to both the chairman of the JIC and to the prime minister and both had assented in it.

Michael Gerson on Blair's views:

Irresponsible and failing states become bases of operation for terrorist, crime and drug syndicates.

Gareth Stansfield, Chatham House report: Accepting Realities in Iraq

"It can be argued that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation."

Michael Gerson:

On Wednesday, sitting in shirtsleeves by the pool at the British Embassy in Washington, Blair recalled that day, along with Sept. 11, 2001, as evidence of a movement with "completely unnegotiable demands" that is "prepared to visit unlimited destruction."

Tony Blair, March 9, 2003:

Saddam Hussein is to be given a 'final and non-negotiable' list of weapons he must destroy or account for within six days to prevent a devastating onslaught from American and British forces.

In a stark outline of the endgame for Iraq, Britain and the US are to publish a set of disarmament 'trip-points' detailing specific weapons in his arsenal that the United Nations has listed in a private report to the Security Council circulated this weekend....

"We want to emphasise that this can still be resolved peacefully if Saddam Hussein decides to disarm," [Blair's spokesman said].

Michael Gerson:

"They are prepared to play a long game," he told me, "and they believe that we are not." Blair's impending departure from the game makes that terrorist belief more plausible.

Robin Cook:

Kofi Annan had just received a letter from the Iraqis accepting the return of UN weapons inspectors without any conditions. This is quite a climbdown by Saddam. We cannot credibly proceed with a military strike now he has met our key demand.

...the first thing I did was to ring Jonathan Powell to express my strong view that we could not simply bat away the latest offer from Saddam. I found Jonathan very receptive to my argument, but there was a catch: "We have to be careful of how our statements will play in Washington, and we therefore should not get too far in front of the Americans."

Later in the day, passing through No 10 on my way to the Cabinet Office, I bumped into Alastair Campbell and again expressed the view that we should not be too grudging in our response. Alastair, as always, was no-nonsense in his reply: "I cannot agree with you. We are playing a long game." Presumably the long game is to contrive an assault on Iraq whatever Saddam does...

I expressed my concern about the hard-line rightwingers around Bush and warned [Blair] that many of them would regard it as a bonus in the present crisis if we were driven from office and replaced by a Conservative government. He laughed and said, "Regime change is for Baghdad. It is not for here."

Michael Gerson:

The prime minister's staff, over drinks, will complain that he cares too much for the views of the press...

Tony Blair:

Prime Minister Tony Blair believes BBC coverage of Hurricane Katrina is "full of hate" for America, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has claimed in a speech...

Mr Murdoch said Mr Blair told him in a private conversation BBC World Service coverage was "full of hate of America and gloating about our troubles".

Michael Gerson:

"Justice," he says, "is the thing that is most powerful in its appeal to people."

Tony Blair vision of modern Justice, days before the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes:

Shortly after the July 7 bombings Tony Blair told his monthly Downing Street briefing "the rules have changed". He signalled an offensive designed to strengthen Britain's anti-terror laws.

Despite setbacks and legal criticism that his measures were taking Britain down the path towards authoritarianism, the Prime Minister is still convinced he is right...

Blair's definition of the "modern world" shapes his insistence that any hint of authoritarianism is way off the mark. ID cards are necessary for "reason of practicality"; the shooting of an innocent man in his home in Forest Gate last month was a regrettable but still praiseworthy act, a police force doing its job well; the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes merited, in the modern world, a government "narrative" on the killing, not a public inquiry.

"Traditional processes", as Blair called them, are not the answer. So 7/7 marks the onset of the "modern world" and the end of the usefulness of "traditional processes".

Michael Gerson:

But Blair's liberalism not only purrs, it bites.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usGeorge W. Bush bids adieu to Tony Blair:

I do congratulate the Prime Minister for being a -- when he gets on a subject, it's dogged.

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  • hi σμινϑεύς (or should it be σμινϑεῦ)

    Can't find a proper circumflex on my machine.



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:08 PM  

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