14 November, 2006

Blair : foreign policy speech,

Last night in his speech to the Lord Mayor's Banquet in London, Tony Blair advocated solving the problems of the Middle East, including both Israel and and Iraq, by enlisting Iran and Syria as partners for peace.

The purpose of ideological terrorism, Blair said, is "now plain:" it is,

to provoke civil war. The violence is not therefore an accident or a result of faulty planning. It is a deliberate strategy. It is the direct result of outside extremists teaming up with internal extremists - Al Qaida with the Sunni insurgents, Iranian backed Shia militia - to foment hatred and thus throttle at birth the possibility of non-sectarian democracy. These external elements are, of course, the same elements driving extremism the world over.
The Prime Minister said terrorism is a global problem which needs to be approached through a "whole Middle East strategy". In the key passage of the speech, linking the problem of Islamic terrorism directly to Israel and Palestine, he continued,
There is a fundamental misunderstanding that this is about changing policy on Syria and Iran. First, those two countries do not at all share identical interests. But in any event that is not where we start.

On the contrary, we should start with Israel/Palestine. That is the core. We should then make progress on Lebanon. We should unite all moderate Arab and Moslem voices behind a push for peace in those countries but also in Iraq. We should be standing up for, empowering, respecting those with a moderate and modern view of the faith of Islam everywhere.
The British government will not be seeking a military solution to the dangers of a nuclear Iran. Instead, the Iranian government will be offered "a clear strategic choice": Iran can either accept a partnership in the Middle East peace process and the fight against terrorism or face isolation.

Wow. Isolation , with presumably the implicit threat of United Nations sanctions. The policy outlined in the speech is exactly what had been signalled earlier. It is hard to resist the conclusion that, in the US elections, Bush was holed below the waterline and now the British rat is leaving the sinking ship. As a Daily Telegraph leader observes, the lunatics have been invited to run the asylum.

In the UK press: the Guardian emphasises the shift of focus to the Palestinian problem; the Times headlines the Syria and Iran angle; and, for a headline,"Our new friends in the Middle East" the Independent renames some of the paper's very old friends.

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph reports that Blair's new Iranian friends are plotting to replace the ailing al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, with individuals sympathetic to Iran. As the paper observes, before moving on to analyses Blair's speech,
The revelation will deal a major blow to Tony Blair's hopes of establishing a "new partnership" with Teheran.
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The Ripper said...

Its still puzzling to me as to why Blair supported Bush so steadfastly down the rathole that has become Iraq. I mean we all know what a dangerous moron Bush is, but Blair has appeared to always be so intelligent regarding most things, then to throw his lot with the neocons regarding Iraq--it just doesn't make sense.


Henry Bolingbroke said...

From the other side of the argument, I agree Ripper. It is most puzzling. The simplest explanation is that Blair was really convinced by the policy arguments. I do not believe that for a minute.

One for the historians in years to come I think.