Sunday, July 01, 2007

Blair blusters, as bombs threaten

AS car bombs are found in London and a blazing jeep rams the main terminal building at Glasgow airport, our former prime minister turned Middle East "peace envoy" pours more inflammatory material on the fire.

(having written this I discover cartoonist Carlos Latuff had a similar idea about Blair's "peace" role, so I've added his work above. Great minds think alike. Thanks for this to my blogging colleague in Jerusalem, Desert Peace

Today's Observer reports:
"Tony Blair has launched a powerful attack on 'absurd' British Islamists who have nurtured a false 'sense of grievance' that they are being oppressed by Britain and the United States.
In his most outspoken remarks on Islamists, the former Prime Minister warns that Britain is in danger of losing the battle against terrorists unless mainstream society confronts the threat.
Blair's remarks, in which he also attacks some civil liberty campaigners as 'loopy loo', were made in a Channel 4 documentary recorded last Tuesday on the eve of his departure from Downing Street.",,2115929,00.html

For many of us, the sense of relief felt when we saw the back of Tony B-Liar as Prime Minister, even if we know Brown won't change anything, was soon tempered by the realisation that he could do still more damage in the Middle East. This is the "peace envoy" who lied to his parliament and people, using fabricated "intelligence" to drag us into war with Iraq; and who stood alone with George W.Bush opposing the call for a cease-fire in Lebanon, as Israeli bombs hit Beirut.

As well as inventing information about Iraq, the Blair government during its presidency of the European Union suppressed a report by Britain's own consular officials on what was happening to people in Occupied Palestine. Then British officers who were supposed to be keeping a watch on the Palestine Authority's Jericho prison were withdrawn half an hour before Israeli forces stormed the prison and kidnapped Palestinian prisoners. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw assured MPs at Westminster there had been no British collusion.

Some friends of mine did not believe him. They tried to stage a peaceful demonstration in Whitehall and were arrested under New Labour's "Serious Crimes Act"! (and this is the government that wants to teach "democracy" in the Middle East - or did until Palestinians voted for the wrong party, and Britain, the US and EU decided to take their ballot away, or at least, to make them and their children all pay for it.)

The "serious criminals" charged over the Jericho demo in Whitehall were not Muslim jihadis. Matter of fact three of the five charged were Jews. We don't trust this government as peacemakers, so why should Muslims?

A petition at
"To: Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
"We call on you, as President of the European Commission, to resist pressures from outside Europe to appoint Tony Blair as special envoy to the Middle East on behalf of the "Quartet".
We have no confidence that Mr Blair will act impartially and we want to see a person appointed to this role who understands the rights and needs of everyone in the Middle East and who will work for a just and lasting peace for both Palestinians and Israelis."

Alas, by the time I saw and signed this petition it was already a forlorn hope, though to date more than 1,400 people have signed it. But what faith can we place in this Quartet led by Bush or in his appointed envoy? Veteran Israeli journalist and peace campaigner Uri Avnery sometimes dares to be optimistic b'kol zot, in spite of all disappointments, but not this time. After observing that the Sharm el Sheikh summit avoided the issue of occupation, Avnery writes:
'INTO THIS reality Tony Blair is now stepping.He is being sent by the Quartet - something that does not really exist, a diplomatic fiction of four that are one.
Europe does not exist as far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned, except as a financial instrument of the White House. When the President of the USA wants it, Europe sends alms to the Palestinians (and arms to Israel). When the President of the USA wants to starve the Palestinians, Europe imposes a blockade on them.
The UN has long ago become an instrument of the US Department of State, especially in the Middle East. When the American drill sergeant shouts, the UN jumps to attention or stands at ease.
Russia dreams of regaining the status of a Great Power. As in the days of the Czars and Stalin, it thinks in terms of "spheres of influence". The Middle East is an American sphere of influence. Therefore, Russia will not interfere, except by mouthing high-sounding phrases.
The Quartet is simply an American front organization. And Tony Blair is sent to Palestine as a special envoy of President Bush. The master sends his poodle.'

Uri Avnery suspects that besides rewarding his servant with a prestigious well-paid job, Bush is using Blair to play for time, helping the pretence that something new is happening while preparing something worse. As always, Avnery's article is well-worth reading.

I could not help reflecting that Blair's career might yet be brought to an explosive climax, though perhaps the array of groups which we're told constitute Al Qaida are not as efficent or well-backed as the Stern gang remnant who killed UN peace envoy Bernadotte (ex-gang member Yitzhak Shamir went on to become Israeli premier), or whoever (the CIA?) arranged the death of Dag Hammarskjold. Only the good die young, as they say, and the devil looks after his own, so I guess Blair will be safe enough.

Could the appointment of Blair have had any bearing on the launch of fresh bombings in Britain? Some men have been arrested, and we may yet learn, but together with the war in Iraq (and the promise that British troops will stay in Afghanistan for 30 years), it seems possible. More likely anyway than the claim given credence by some British newspapers catering for idiots, that it was about Salman Rushdie's knighthood, though I admit that the priorities of religious persons - if such be involved- are often beyond us mere leftists.

The attack on Glasgow airport could have been a misdirected retaliation for the use of Glasgow Prestwick last year as a staging base for US flights carrying bombs for Israel's war in Lebanon, in which as Israeli officers commented critically afterwards "we scattered cluster bombs like confetti". Bombs which are still killing Lebanese children. As we remarked at the time it was the British authorities who had removed the distinction between military and civilian airfields.

We shall see.

Whatever the bombers' motives, targeting members of the public for the sins of the government we elected is misguided and wrong. Just as it was wrong when the British, US and Israeli governments did it to the Palestinians.
But there is nothing misguided nor "absurd" about people hating the British government. Let's not find excuses for these actions aimed at ordinary people. But don't let the terror attacks or the government and media propaganda make us forget that we don't like or trust this government and its policies either.



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