Sunday, October 28, 2007

Blair Unbound Part 2


Had he stayed focused on the domestic agenda, Tony Blair's premiership could have been seen as a truly radical one. It passed more constitutional reform than any other in the 20th. century, maintained momentum on reform of public services (for better or worse), introduced the minimum wage, freed the Bank of England.....none of these are developments to be sniffed at. But Blair was undone by foreign affairs, and specifically Iraq. The new extracts from Anthony Seldon's book in the Mail on Sunday today (ok, if you really do blanch at buying a copy you can access it here online) seek to illuminate some of the complexities surrounding Blair's Iraq role.

Reading Seldon, one is struck by the fact that very often Blair's own instinct seemed to be the correct one, endorsed by some of his 'inner cabinet' team (largely comprised of unelected advisers such as foreign affairs guru David Manning). He was concerned to ensure that the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan was properly followed up. He was bothered by the fast momentum towards war with Iraq that was gathering pace in Washington. He wanted to kick-start a Middle East peace process. And the majority of his advisers, as well as the sidelined Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, were genuinely disturbed by the idea fo another front in Iraq.

What seems to have happened is that Blair himself felt utterly committed to being at the side of George Bush and endorsing whatever action the American president wanted to take. Blair certainly felt that Iraq needed 'dealing with', but when push came to shove he never sought to hold the American president back. It was, in the end, this failure that was to irreparably damage him for the rest of his time in office, and perhaps tarnish his reputation for good. And, of course, far more significant, it was to damage, ruin or end the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and fatally endanger British soldiers in a war whose origins seemed so clouded.

7 comments:

consultant said...

Quite so. Blair is a highly intelligent man, clearly capable of understanding the complex geopolitical problems he found himself confronted with during his premiership, which makes it all the more mystifying as to why he acted as he did. He defied the advice of his closest colleagues, his own conscience, and the evidence that was laid before him, and chose instead to pursue an infatuation with a US president who appears to have been criminally insane.

It’s a logical disconnect that Armando Iannucci lampooned rather nicely in my own (far less high-minded) Sunday newspaper yesterday, recounting Blair’s take on the possible invasion of Iran:

'I've now spent three months travelling the Middle East trying to sort it out and preparing material for a hopefully quite interesting second volume to my memoirs, and among the many injustices and miserable faces I've encountered in this tortured and complex land, the one message I'm getting is that the whole region is balanced on a precarious knife-edge that could go up in tinder at any time.

'My feeling is that we need to be careful in our actions here and that what is required is that we very carefully and very delicately bomb and then attack Iran. I don't say this lightly. Many will disagree with me. Indeed, many do.

'Which convinces me all the more this is the right thing to do. You see, it's clear from the evidence we're getting that Iran could have a nuclear weapon ready to strike against the West in as little as 45 months. Which is why we only have days to act.’


The full piece, including the responses of George Bush and Jack Straw on the same question, can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2200781,00.html

future tory pm said...

i hate blair and yes i do admit it is i, jamie maclachlan

Eskimooo said...

the truth is finally revealed... or is it?

Anonymous said...

Who knows the WHOLE TRUTH? No-one except the few involved in decision-making at the top. No-one can be happy at the deaths in Iraq, despite the fact that they have been ongoing for decades prior to the invasion. Whether in the end, we will see this differently, again, who knows?

I for one, believe MY government's and its allies' case rather than those of people who lightly kill their own.

And I STILL think we made a dreadful mistake getting rid of Blair.

Hopefully he will have learned what he needs to know to help in the tinderbox that is the Middle East. If HE can't, I don't know who will.

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com

Future Liberal PM said...

Its all fair and well attributing the 'downfall' of a previous Prime Minister to his relationship with a foreign leader, and its ramifications for how our own foreign policy is constructed (specifically in regards to the war in Iraq). It is another thing entirely to consider how an apparently similar relationship that is beginning to emerge between our current Prime Minister and the same foreign leader, with a very similar situation arising in the same region of the world as Iraq.(i.e. the threat of weapons of mass destruction being developed in Iran, whereas previously it was the same claim for Iraq.) I am, of course, referring to Iran. At the moment, it seems that the United States policy is moving closer and closer to enforcing more strenuous - and more militarily active, some would say - sanctions and restrictions upon Iran, and unless we can be sure that the Prime Minister is willing to disentangle himself, and indeed, our country from the foreign affairs policies of another country, we may find ourselves launching our military forces into another middle eastern conflict, yet again without any real foreward planning for peace, resulting in yet another military and foreign affairs quagmire in the region, unbalancing it further than it has been already, driving resentment both there and indeed at home further upwards, and all before we have made a complete withdrawal from Iraq.

Although, Iran doesn't have quite as much oil as Iraq, so perhaps there isn't too much of a problem there after all.

P.S. future tory pm is Jamie Maclachlan, and we now have all the proof we need.

future tory PM said...

I cry imposter! my name is blue not black, nice try but no cake for you! Oh and a future LIBERAL PM?!? Don't make me laugh.

spin doctor said...

i personally feel indifference to the war in iraq and agreeing with Blair's sentiment that Afghanistan should have remained our sole conflict, and it has been said that if we were to stay with the Afghan conflict then the taliban surely would have been defeated rather than being allowed to be on the receiving end of a massive upsurge in support for their cause.
However i feel that "future liberal PM" like so many of the liberal party seems to have a very narrow view of the world and seem only to be concerned with removing britian from all world conflict and removing its deterence, mainly Trident, rather than looking at the world as a whole and realising that whilst some in this country may not want to be involved with the curretn conflicts in the east it is much more beneficial to the country to stay involved in such conflicts as it strengthens our standing in the world and often improves relations with growing world powers such as China.
Whilst some may disagree with the current foreign policy course that our government has adopted i feel that it is a necessary course to follow and it will maintain our political standing in the world and stop us from falling further by keeping key economic partners on our side rather than alienating them.