Monday, November 07, 2005

Is Iraq Blair's Fault?

A new book written by Sir Christopher Meyer, former British Ambassador to the US has opened a door on the relationship between Tony Blair and the US Administration, - both Clinton's and Bush's. However, it is on the subject of Iraq that he makes the most controversial revelations.

He claims that the Prime Minister was so "seduced" by US power that he failed to exert the pressure that was available to him on Bush who was desperate to win allies. In fact, Sir Christopher goes on to suggest that Tony Blair offered such unconditional support to Bush, that he effectively negated the influence he may have been able to exert, particularly for post-war Iraq. "We may have been the junior partner in the enterprise but the ace up our sleeve was that America did not want to go it alone. Had Britain so insisted, Iraq after Saddam might have avoided the violence that may yet prove fatal to the entire enterprise."

All this goes to support the view that Tony Blair was effectively Bush's "poodle". Sir Christopher goes on to confirm that, although Blair was denying it here, he was in favour of regime change. However, he does go on to say that Blair chose his stance from the "highest of high moral ground; but the high moral ground, and the pure white flame of unconditional support to an ally in service of an idea, have their disadvantages. They place your destiny in the hands of the ally. They fly above the tangled history of Sunni, Shia and Kurd. They discourage descent into the dull detail of tough and necessary bargaining; meat and drink to Margaret Thatcher, but, so it seemed, uncongenial to Tony Blair."

Sir Christopher also describes a picture of a prime minister taking US Presidential politics as his personal template, and a Downing Street organisation that has taken all Government power into its own hands. The former ambassador says he discovered very early that, as had been the case with Margaret Thatcher, relations with the US would be controlled by Downing Street with the Foreign Office relegated to second fiddle.

"The Foreign Office never stood a chance. America belonged to Downing Street."

Sir Christopher's memoirs are also littered with anecdotes that throw some light into the smaller corners of the Prime Minister's lifestyle. For example, on Alastair Campbell, he says: "My eternal memory of him will always be his standing over Tony Blair, on some flight or other, gesticulating forcefully while the prime minister sat meekly in his seat like a schoolboy under instruction.

One of the great strengths of British politics has always been the checks and balances over the executive, but recent landslide election results have, in the main, rendered those controls mainly redundant. Those checks have, in the main, been brought about through the blood of the common man; the Civil War, Magna Carta, Tolpuddle Martyrs and the suffragette movement, yet that can so easily count for nothing, if the control and patronage of the Government is complete enough.

One fact of interest: Sir Christopher Meyer was, himself, in favour of the war in Iraq!

And finally; the sooner we get rid of all monachastic trappings the better. Sirs, Lords and Graces should all be done away with, and everyone becomes a Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms., - at least then we would have a legitimate Tony Blair presidency!


Jay said...

I've always pictured Blair as somebody who wanted desperately to achieve a legacy of greatness. It is somewhat tragic that he tied himself to a drunken moron and war criminal. The stain on his hands will be his only legacy.

sandegaye said...

I was just reading a review on this book this morning.. interesting!
I hope that Blair rues the day he cuddled w/ Bushit.

None said...

I would like to say that I had a lot of respect for Tony Blair when he so eloquently spoke on the US's behalf immediately following 9/11. Our own leader can't even pronounce "nuclear." But I agree - Mr. Blair could have exerted a lot of influence on the US and Europe in the days leading into the Iraq War and subsequent post-war era. He is the real link because the US and Europe. Unfortunately, he did what he thought was best (you can't fault a man for taking the high moral ground) but hindsight is always 20/20.