Friday, January 8, 2010

Unpopular Contrarian, Probably Right

Decades from now, I expect reasonable historians will see Tony Blair as a mostly positive figure. He understands the fundamental dynamics of our age, and tries to do the best he can even though his voters disagree, and his former voters hate him for it. Haaretz has a long interview with him:
"People sometimes say to me, no, it's not really Iraq, it's Afghanistan," Blair says. "Someone else will say, no it's Pakistan, and someone else will say it's Iraq, and someone else will say it's Yemen. But actually it's all of these because in different ways, they represent different challenges that are unified by one single movement with a single ideology. And this is going to be resolved, in my view, over a long period of time. But what is important is that wherever it is fighting us, we're prepared to fight back. And actually if you take the situation, for example, in Iraq, what began as a fight to remove Saddam was over in two months but then what occupied us for the next six years was fighting external elements - Al-Qaida on one hand, Iranian-backed militias on the other, which are the same elements we're fighting everywhere. Now, ultimately we've got to understand that, unfortunately, we can't say: 'Look, let's concentrate it here, but not here, and here, and here,' because that's not the way this thing's working."

Blair's equation doesn't end there. "Actually there is a unifying theme, in my view, between what's happened in countries like our own country with terrorist activity, and what's happening in places like Yemen or Afghanistan or Somalia or, I'm afraid, other countries. The key to understanding this is [that] this is a global movement with a global ideology and it is one struggle. It's one struggle with many different arenas."
How unpopular. How refreshing.


Rob said...

Sorry Yaakov, but as a Brit, I can't get too excited by Blair. It's all very well for him to come out with this stuff now that he's safely out of office but his "political correctness" prevented him from saying anything so forthright when it mattered. Moreover, he presided over a government that bloated the public sector in this country and has led us to near bankruptcy - he was too weak to deal with his then Chancellor Gordon Brown. Blair's Britain was also responsible for "Londonistan" and the self-destructive over-sensitivity to "Islamophobia". Too many other failings to mention from another socialist government that yet again ran out of other people's money and showed a reckless disregard for immigration control. Now he swans round the world earning millions for spouting more platitudes and empty rhetoric. The sooner his party leaves office, the better.

Anonymous said...

Rob - do you really expect the Conservatives to be better?

Among the list of 38 books that Cameron asked Tory MPs to read over the summer break in 2008 was The First Arab Israeli War, Benny Morris. And during the Second Lebanon War, Cameron and other prominent Tories enthusiastically joined in the shrieking anti-Israel chorus, criticizing Blair's government for refusing to denounce Israel's actions as 'disproportionate'.

Rob said...

Interesting info re. Cameron. I am not particularly impressed by him but for now "it's the economy, stupid" ... without a decent economy everything else is just empty chatter. Labour have been criminally negligent and ignorant wrt the economy.

AKUS said...

Blair's comments are interesting and on the mark. However, what is also interesting is that he didn't name names - that this is a war foisted on the West - and, in time, the rest of the world - by Islam.

Until the fear of calling this threat by its name is overcome, countries opposed to the spread of Islam - or, being taken over by Islam - will be fighting with one hand tied behind its back.

In Britain's case - two hands tied behind its back. Britain has already given up the fight.

Rob said...

From today's Sunday Times (see extract below), we see yet again that Blair the "brave" leader was in fact a dangerous leader because he didn't properly back up his words with actions.

He sent soldiers into war and allowed his right-hand man Gordon Brown to starve them of vital equipment - the money had already been earmarked for wasteful public sector pay !

Blair can't have it both ways: either the buck stops with him or it doesn't, he can't float above all the crappy behaviour of the Government he (ostensibly) led.

When he was elected in '97 there was all this hot air about Blair's Third Way, a middle ground between right and left, but predictably it came to nothing. The only significant British political leader since Churchill was Thatcher.

Sunday Times article extract:

"The leaked letters show how Brown’s actions during the crucial period of 2002 to 2004 meant that military chiefs were unable to buy new helicopters which could now be in service in Afghanistan.

The lack of air support has forced British troops to take dangerous journeys by road, exposing them to deadly Taliban bombs.

Military chiefs have long complained that the Treasury under Brown starved them of resources. Only now, however, can Brown’s personal involvement in the battles with the MoD be disclosed."