It is a fact that when a politician says something you must carefully analyze why it was said. The grander the statement the closer the scrutiny must be. This is because messianic visions and courageous vows are not usually followed by accompanying actions. Unfortunately, in the happy coincidence that deed matches rhetoric, it is often when implementing xenophobic immigration policies, proclaiming new infringements on civil liberties or trumpeting new crusades against the oppressed.
Tony Blair is, perhaps, more prone than most to discrepancies in promise and delivery. But his recent war mongering towards Iraq has the ring of sincerity and there is a sad inevitability about Blair’s involvement in Bush’s war.
The press statements from Downing Street, the diplomatic language and the direct message from Blair himself all point in one direction: Baghdad. In this, the honest Tommy is merely running after the advancing US forces, such is the certainty that Bush will launch war against Iraq before the year is out. Of course, the attack will not have anything to do with tackling the issue of terrorism, in spite of the best efforts of the US and UK administrations to seamlessly extend the ‘war’ on Al-Qaeda to ‘rogue states’.
Ideological opposition, geopolitics, oil and extension of the US Empire are the real driving forces behind the belligerence and eventual attack. It should be understood within the context of world history since World War II, where the US has fought ‘evil’ enemies (’communism’, ‘rogue states’, and ‘terrorism’) as a thin veil to cover its imperial ambition. So where does Tony fit in?
It appears that Mr Blair has decided to throw his lot in with the US in their mission to “save western civilisation”. Blair’s actual beliefs are hard to pinpoint, if they exist at all. However, for British critics of the war, Blair’s motivations are largely irrelevant. The 18th century philosopher Helvétius thought that it did not matter whether those who prevented happiness where actually malicious, ignorant or idealistic fools. Maybe, Blair genuinely believes that war on Iraq will benefit its citizens and the region as a whole. Maybe, Blair is simply doing the Empire’s bidding. Whatever, the results would be the same; innocent civilians will die, and stability in the Middle East threatened.
Now is the time for Members of Parliament and the general public in Britain to make their opposition very clear to Tony Blair. It is pointless to appeal to his humanity; a Damascene conversion from the ideology of ‘destroying the village to save it’/ ‘bombing them out of their burqas’ is unlikely.
Rather, let us remind him that he is actually an elected representative of the British people. Bombing Iraq will cost him votes and allegiances. The prospect of orphaned Iraqi children will not change Blair’s mind. But losing an election might.
Published in Counterpunch.