Today, as WMassP&I returns from one of its painful hiatuses (hiati?), we turn to the East. Much further than Boston, I'm afraid to the country under whom this city was founded. In England, or more correctly, Great Britain, the Premiership of Tony Blair is at an end. For ten years, Blair has been the leader of what was once the holder of the world's largest empire. The changing of the guard at 10 Downing Street is, however, tied to our country because of the conflict that has mired and is miring both of our nations.
Some say that Tony Blair's fall is inevitable. An Ed-op in Monday's New York Times, ostensibly written by a Brit, describes how Britons simply detest politicians. He notes how they turned out Churchill scarcely after WWII ended. The author omits the fact that all of GB does not elect the Prime Minister and that Churchill was in office as leader of the opposition until he later became Premier again after Labour was turned out.
It is easier for us to say some things about Blair. That which I say about him is kinder. It is true that his charisma and third way politics were a big part of his success. He did take a cue from our dear friend Bill Clinton. While that led to some major domestic victories, it could not save him from public opinion on Iraq.
Blair has not appologized about Iraq, which I hope before the day he dies, he one day will. His position might have been excuseable had he been able to extract real concessions on real threats to humanity like Global Warming from the Prez of this country. Instead he decided to compete with First Pet Barney the Dog and become Bush's poodle, as the British press frequently lampoons.
Blair, while sly like any good politician on either side of the Atlantic, doubtlessly had better thoughts on Iraq and perhaps was duped by Bush and not interested in exposing himself to having been misled by his own ally. Either way, his foray into Iraq I do not see as the actions of a pig-headed, pompous, self-righteous, stubborn pinhead, like a certain leader of a certain free world. It was an attempt, by sticking with the United States, to make Britain more relevant in an era when the Sun does indeed set on the British empire.
This does not excuse his actions, but it does allow us to understand them. The relationship between the United States and Great Britain may have suffered mightily otherwise. Blair obviously saw where the wind was blowing when France and Germany declared their opposition to invasion and could not stomach such a situation for his country.
Time will only tell if Blair will be exonerated. If he ever shows contrition for Iraq or evidence of deliberate attempts to mislead the public comes to light and he cannot but admit the truth, it may happen. In the meantime, he has been appointed an envoy to the Middle East for the so-called Quartet (US, UN, EU, and Russia). So ad interim, Cheers, Tony.