Reinventing A War Criminal
by Stephen Lendman
Britain’s most despised and discredited man ended his 10 year reign June 27 when he stepped down from office transferring his ruling Labor Party’s leadership to successor Gordon Brown. He had no choice because of seething public displeasure over his allying with George Bush’s illegal wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Most Brits oppose them, yet the vast majority of Labor and Conservative MPs, including new prime minister Gordon Brown, supported them early on, now may have second thoughts, but are constrained by close relations with Washington making them reluctant to back down from what they once disingenuously trumpeted as a noble cause.
That’s an open question, however, the London Guardian’s Jonathan Steele posed and answered June 29 if Mr. Brown was listening. Steele’s message to “The new man in No 10” is “seize the day….break with Bush now….signal a fresh start by taking Britain out of Iraq.” Don’t bet on it. Steele says Brown is a committed “Atlanticist.” He’s likely weighing the proper way to begin engaging his US ally. Steele tells him how, pointing to other loyal NATO members as examples. France and Germany sent no forces to Iraq, and Italy, Spain and the Netherlands withdrew theirs. It caused no rupture in relations with Washington for any of them after some name calling at first. Why not Britain now? Steele stresses how refreshing a policy change at “No 10” would be “after the subservient Blair years.”
Tony Blair began his tenure May 2, 1997 with a formidable approval rating as high at times as 90% but ended it in the mid-20% range or lower. The same is likely for George Bush already at 26% in the latest Newsweek poll suggesting it’s even lower than that. Immediately post-9/11, he was compared to Lincoln, FDR and Churchill combined. It was laughable then and seems ludicrous now for a hated man barely hanging on and trying to avoid what growing numbers in the country demand – his removal from office by impeachment along with Vice-President Cheney.
The feeling of many in Britain is that by allying with George Bush, Mr. Blair left a legacy of “dashed hopes and big disappointments, of so much promised and so little delivered.” That’s in spite of helping advance the Northern Ireland peace process, begun before he took office, and that leaders in Ireland had lots more to do with than him.
Just hours after standing down, the announcement everyone knew in advance came, surprising no one but angering most. Referring to the so-called Quartet, the BBC reported June 27: “Tony Blair is to become a Middle East envoy working on behalf of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU.” The London Guardian called him “the Quartet’s fifth horseman,” an appointment that “beggars belief.” In his new capacity, he’ll replace former World Bank president James Wolfensohn who resigned last year for lack of progress he never had a chance to achieve in the first place.