R.I.P. Tony Blair

Police guard protesters outside a meeting of the London Commission as former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair testifies on Jan. 29, 2010 (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

Police guard protesters outside a meeting of the London Commission as former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair testifies on Jan. 29, 2010 (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

The cameras recorded Tony Blair’s obituary yesterday. Blair didn’t die physically (he looks perfectly healthy), but his reputation took a final, precipitous plunge into nothingness. Ten years ago, Blair was one of the world’s foremost political leaders – a British Prime Minister on the verge on winning a second straight term; a man who, on the day he led his Labour Party to victory in June of 2001, prompted his Tory opponent to say, “As a person, I respect him enormously. Quite rightly, a lot of people respect him.”

The respect was there because Blair had brought integrity to 10 Downing Street – had used his Oxford-educated intellect to stabilize the U.K.’s economy; had overseen a major peace transition in Northern Ireland; and, in his mid-40s, had restored confidence in a country that had tired of aging Conservative Party bureaucrats John Major and Margaret Thatcher. As the Daily Telegraph noted upon Blair’s 2001 re-election, he was “Labour’s star performer.”

That was then. Blair left office three years ago in turmoil, his reputation changed forever after cheerleading the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Blair was derided as “Bush’s poodle” for rubber-stamping the U.S. president’s gung-ho approach to war in Baghdad. Yesterday – as he has done consistently since 2003 – Blair defended his decision to involve Britain, saying he still has “no regret” – despite the fact that the supposed main reason for war (Iraq’s ability to detonate “weapons of mass destruction”) was proven to be dubious. “Bliar” is how protesters refer now to Blair, who has blood on his hands.

Blair doesn’t have to worry about legal recriminations. The London commission he spoke to yesterday is simply reviewing the British government’s responsibility for the Iraq War, not prosecuting it. Outside the halls of official Britain, however, Blair has to watch out. A fellow Oxford graduate, writer and activist George Monbiot, has spearheaded a reward to anyone who makes a citizen’s arrest of Blair. Thousands of dollars have been donated to Monbiot’s campaign at www.arrestblair.org. The money is another “nail in the coffin” to Blair’s once-pristine reputation.

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4 Responses to R.I.P. Tony Blair

  1. herbertsmart says:

    Blair is just like other modern war criminals George Bush, Bill Clinton & Henry Kissinger. He goes around grinning, shaking hands, making speeches, and drawing a fat paycheck. This won’t change.

  2. rockyinlaw says:

    This has been a very strange chapter in the modern world. The idea that we could invade a country at all, and then justify it by stating we did it for what might have been. It still all strikes me as surreal. I don’t know what to think about the people of England blaming Blair as we do Bush. I do know that it still feels that too much has been hidden from all of us, the public. Perhaps the English will get to the whole truth …

    • Let’s hope so. Seven years after the Iraq War began, it’s still possible to wrench important truths from what happened, and to hold people accountable, though it may not be in a way that’s completely satisfying.

  3. Mr Curiel – you say the WMD threat “was proven to be dubious. “Bliar” is how protesters refer now to Blair, who has blood on his hands.”

    “Was proven”? Are you sure? And Blair “…has blood on his hands”? What about the suicide bombers? They’re still at it today, yesterdya nd the day before! Have they no accountability? Is it only western politicians that need to account for trying to remove a dictatorial leader like Saddam? Only western politicians who had “malice aforethought”.

    Even Hans Blix, the UN and many countries around the world believed Saddam had WMD. Is it not the case that even if WMD had been found people like yourself would still have been against the whole invasion?

    I am not convinced that WMD/”illegal war” or “lies” are the true reasons for the anti arguments. It’s more that you are not convinced that Saddam needed to be removed. That or impotent, unreserved pacifism. Presumably you’d have been happy were Saddam still there and still ordering the murder of his own people (as with WMD and the Kurds) and as Saddam had done for 30 years.

    I was at Tony Blair’s evidence session on 29th January in London. The antis were no more than 100, maybe 200 at times. Mr Blair accounted very well for himself. You may wish to read my report here:

    http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/i-was-a-witness-more-or-less-to-the-trial-of-tony-blair-aka-the-iraq-inquiry/

    Mr Blair still has many supporters here in Britain, despite a murderous, semi-ignorant, opinionated press. NOT ONE of them or anyone in the international community had the guts or determination to do anything for 12 years on the issue of Saddam. That they shared with the useless UN, who ignored the trangression by Saddam of their own resolutions. Liberal interventionism meant nothing to them.

    Tony Blair is a hero.

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