Monday, August 07, 2006


Bush-Blair: What a Partnership

The former director of the insider think-tank Demos, Tim Bentley, writes about New Labour in today's Guardian and concludes that though Britain is a 'better, more relaxed, open wealthy, interesting society' its energy has been fatally sapped by the disastrous Iraq adventure and the debilitating struggle for supremacy between Gordon and Tony. From someone who has been so close to New Labour's decisionmaking, this is a penetrating observation. But for me the article with most resonance in recent days was written last Saturday by Emma Brockes.

She took us back to that time in early November 2004 when US voters queued up to vote. I took the queues as comforting evidence of a huge impending backlash against Bush and was further enthused when an old racing journalist friend- also a dedicated punter- rang up late on the Tuesday night to say, breathlessly, 'Kerry's got it. The bookies are saying so and they know you know.' I turned over and closed my eyes to dream of an America restored to FDR liberalism... but then it was morning. Brockes recalls how we all said things like 'Oh God, what is going to happen to the world?' as if terrible things were about to rain on us, like those biblical frogs from the heavens. But what we secretly thought inside was that by stating the worst case scenario we could insulate the world from reality turning out anything like as bad.

Well, it didn't and it's so much worse than even we feared. I'm not saying it was all the fault of Bush or even his over eager Fettes educated accomplice. Those al Quaeda pilots on their first and last mission have had quite a bit to do with what has happened to the world since then. And Bush's initial reaction, that extraordinary school scene notwithstanding, was regulation, hand on heart, appropriately patriotic. No, it's what's happened in the longer aftermath of 9-11 which has been so depressing and terrifying. Shooting up the Taliban for harbouring Bin Laden was sort of expected: Bush had to kick someone's ass.

That knee-jerk reaction took a little while to start going down the toilet but now we can almost hear the whooshing sounds. Iraq didn't even take that long to assume the proverbial pearshape and after a period of political and military mismanagement unparalleled in my life-time, the death toll in Saddam's former property is 6000 since June as it sinks daily into the predicted horriffic civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslim militias. And now we have the war in the Lebanon. Well done George and Tony; it couldn't and wouldn't have happened without you.

I'm staggered that you're so quick to whitewash the Taliban and Hezbollah just to make another Bush-Blair post.

I don't mean to single you out, but reactions on the Left are now so extreme that a fair proportion has been thoroughly compromised, and the damage will last well beyond Blair's departure.
I'm not aware that I gave a 'whitewash' to either. My point is the incompetence of Washington's response-and Blair's complicty- in all three theatres, but especially Iraq. I don't doubt the reality of the threat from the Muslims/terrorists-merely the hamfistedness of what has been offered to cope with the situations created.
Another point, it's not JUST the left who have been left unimpressed by Bush-Blair over the Lebanon: it's virtually the whole bleeding world. To shadow Israel's line so slavishly just seems so unjustifiable and destructive of life.
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