Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Blair's Poodle

I wrote this last year, but didn’t post it, mainly because I felt there was too much Kamm-watching on here. I still think there is, but since then he has yet again repeated the point it deals with, and amazingly there are people out there who apparently want to read more about The Times’s foremost foreign policy poseur, so perhaps it’s worth posting.

It concerns Blair’s April 1999 speech to the Chicago Economic Club. Kamm likes mentioning this. It means he can hymn Blair’s foreign policy as a liberal interventionist departure from the realist consensus, and that means he can talk of “conservative pessimism” or “amoral quietism”. These favourite terms refer to the dark days of the non-interventionist Major government, before Blair’s progressive optimism and moral activism transformed Iraq into a killing ground for hundreds of thousands of its civilians. Via these means, Blair’s entanglement with a reactionary fundamentalist’s invasion is painted as left-wing moral action, dictated by conscience. It must be left-wing because – we’re supposed to believe – John Major wouldn’t have done it.

Unfortunately there are some who still cleave to the preposterous idea that Blair simply rolled over; possibly they were misled by, for instance, Blair’s chief of staff instructing his Washington ambassador to “get up the arse of the White House and stay there”. In this case Kamm has an ace to play. Tony Blair couldn’t possibly have been bounced into supporting the Iraq War because he was already wedded to his longstanding Chicago doctrine, “a distinctive approach to foreign policy that derives from the PM's own philosophy and ideals”.

In one of his recent sabbatical-busting posts, Kamm made the point once more:

“I referred here to Blair's 1999 Chicago speech, which explicitly referred to the urgency of countering Saddam, at a time when George W. Bush was a Governor of Texas of isolationist views. Blair is no poodle of the US administration.”

Quite why he finds this argument so convincing is not clear. It is true that Blair referred to Saddam Hussein in that speech, but that does not mean he was advocating an invasion. The Iraq reference was confined to these sentences:

“Many of our problems have been caused by two dangerous and ruthless men - Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. Both have been prepared to wage vicious campaigns against sections of their own community. As a result of these destructive policies both have brought calamity on their own peoples. Instead of enjoying its oil wealth Iraq has been reduced to poverty, with political life stultified through fear.”

Given that this speech was delivered four months after Operation Desert Fox, where Blair joined Clinton in bombing Iraq, it is plainly a retrospective justification for that action. There is no mention of further military action, let alone of invading Iraq. To take the above comments as proving Blair’s independent intent to invade is in itself a bizarre extrapolation.

Even weirder is Kamm’s repeated reference to Blair delivering his speech when, in one formulation, “George W. Bush was a Governor of Texas of isolationist views”. Nobody ever suggested Blair had some kind of fawning personal relationship with Bush before 2000; back then Blair was too busy obeying William J. Clinton, a President of the United States of interventionist views. Any poodling would self-evidently be towards the office, not the man. To think otherwise would be, at the least, to “misunderstand both British foreign policy and the transatlantic relationship.” (It might be worth remembering, in all this, that this quotation comes from a piece pompously titled “The PM and Atlanticism”. “Transatlantic” is one of Kamm’s special words, apparently used to connote ocean-straddling political nous.)

But we need not confine ourselves to a single speech when examining claims of autonomous warmongering. Well after he had espoused his liberal interventionist “philosophy and ideals”, Blair told Tam Dalyell in a written Commons answer that “[w]e believe that the sanctions regime has effectively contained Saddam Hussein in the last 10 years. During this time he has not attacked his neighbours, nor used chemical weapons against his own people.” He said this in November 2000, so it is hard to see how anything before this point can be used to prove his desire to end sanctions and invade. Whatever “urgency” Kamm detected in 1999 had evidently gone by 2000, only to mysteriously reemerge once Bush was in power and pushing for new military action. Yet according to Kamm, it was Blair’s high-minded principle that drove him to invade.

This is just one example, but it illustrates the desperation of Kamm’s argument. He wants to say that New Labour radically differs from the Conservatives, and that Tony Blair is an independent moral agent, driven forward by his enlightened beliefs. That this is the best he can produce surely shows that Kamm is incompetent or wrong or both in pressing this view. As things stand I’d bet on the last.


Blogger james higham said...

...Unfortunately there are some who still cleave to the preposterous idea that Blair simply rolled over; possibly they were misled by, for instance, Blair’s chief of staff instructing his Washington ambassador to “get up the arse of the White House and stay there”...

I have great respect for your writing and strangely, as I went down this post, I found myself agreeing with your take, except for one thing - it doesn't go far enough.

There is evidence that it's not just at heads of state level but more laterally the power behind the throne that Iraq was the next and vital part of the globalist strategy [such strategy in another way manifesting itself in the NorthAmerican Alliance, for example].

Blair is essentially a weak man and from the time the Bildergergers put him in [see my recent post], he's not his own man. He's pursued a nebulous gung-ho policy, ill thought out and the reason it's ill thought out is because it's not central, it's secondary to the real agenda, which is global in nature. The Euston Manifesto was an afterthought.

I've posted ad infinitum on the agenda and resourced but no one listens.

By the way, your e-mail doesn't work and you're in the Focus this evening, Stuart.

2:30 pm  
Blogger StuartA said...

Thanks for the encouraging comments and the mention, James.

I'm not sure what the problem is with email. I seem to be getting things through again now. Did you send something recently?

As for the Bilderberg Group, I'm really not clear what you're suggesting. I've read Jon Ronson's account of their activities, and in the end they didn't sound that different from many other international gatherings. I'm not suggesting they don't sew up deals at these meetings -- I'd be surprised if they didn't -- but how and why would they have put Blair in place? What is the global agenda to which you refer?

4:56 pm  
Blogger james higham said...

The global agenda is referred to in a series of posts on 'the root of the trouble'.




Blair very much is part of it via the EU. Without going into every single detail, he was asked if he'd attended a Bilderberger meeting since 1997 and he said no. He lied. The question is very interesting why he was so evasive if there's nothing wrong with the Bilderbergers.


The truth is that there is something very wrong with them. Anatole Kaletsky recently wrote a piece in the Times and I posted on it. He summed up the agenda there.


Unfortunately, it's all snippets, like dots on a picture and how to join them is the debatable issue.

There are those who see it at a political level e.g. Cheney is corrupt because of Halliburton. But Cheney is also corrupt because of his activities described in Trance Formation of America.

Admittedly this is a debunkable source but that still doesn't negate that such allegations are cropping up in many places.

But if we sit back and look at it all - the trend is already in place - militarized society, repression of freedoms for no cogent reason, the EU octopus regulating every aspect.

Jon Ronson came to Adventures with Extremists with a gonzo slant and much as I like the 'flow' approach to writing, it doesn't come to grips with these slime, who are outwardly just businessmen.

One doesn't need to be an Icke or Alex Jones to see it.

4:01 pm  
Blogger james higham said...

Stuart, have a look at this and tell me what you think:


4:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


not to mention all yours views and in fact the whole blog is total bullshit.

Rotten to the core.

3:30 pm  
Blogger StuartA said...

A visitor with reading difficulties turns up and leaves a spray of comments on various posts, all but one of which consist solely of the text "tl;dr" ("tl;dr" means, in saddo-speak, "too long, didn't read").

In this particular case there is also an incoherent apparent attempt at an insult, devoid of any factual or argumentative content — unsurprisingly since the poster avowedly didn't read the post.

...and just yesterday I was at Samizdata getting locked out of their comments system for not taking their "politically incorrect" garden drinking session seriously enough (pseudo-libertarian Perry de Havilland likes to have the last word, playground style). Pure coincidence I'm sure.

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