Nothing But Hot (Bl)air

Friday, May 19, 2006

Nothing But Hot (Bl)air

The newest issue of Blueprint, the publication of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), features this article by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In the article, Blair tries to create a paper tiger by falsely framing the debate over foreign policy in the Islamic world in these shallow terms:
The true division in foreign policy today is between those who ... between those who believe that the long-term interests of a country lie in it being engaged -- and those who think the short-term pain of such a policy and its decisions is too great.
Blair wants us to believe the debate is simply about some amorphous "engagement." He seems to think a nation's leader should say "yes" to "being engaged" overseas without asking three relevant questions -- where? why? and how?

In the article, the prime minister proves that he is just as capable as Dick Cheney was of using the word "Iraq" in the same breath as 9/11, bin Laden, Afghanistan, etc. Here's what Blair writes about those who oppose "being engaged":
According to this opinion, the policy of America since 9/11 has been a gross overreaction; George Bush is as much if not more of a threat to world peace as Osama bin Laden; and what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the Middle East is an entirely understandable consequence of U.S./U.K. imperialism or worse, of just plain stupidity.

Leave it all alone or at least treat it with sensitivity and it would all resolve itself in time .... The effect of this paradigm is to see each setback in Iraq or Afghanistan, each revolting terrorist barbarity, each reverse for the forces of democracy or advance for the forces of tyranny as merely an illustration of the foolishness of our ever being there; as a reason why Saddam should have been left in place or the Taliban free to continue their alliance with al Qaeda.

Those who still justify the interventions are treated with scorn.
Blair would have us believe that it's all or nothing -- either you were opposed to the U.S. ("coalition forces") invading both Afghanistan and Iraq or you were in favor of invading both.

He'd prefer to ignore that there are millions of us who supported one of those interventions, but not the other.

Blair's article is shoddy, pedestrian analysis. It's shameful that Blair could write (or have one of his flunkies write) such rubbish given the revelations in the Downing Street memo -- e.g., "the case (for invading Iraq) was thin" and the "intelligence and facts were being fixed" by the Bushies to justify an invasion.

This article also reflects poorly on the DLC, which has presented itself as a serious, intellectual clearinghouse of ideas. And, at times, the DLC has had some ideas worth listening to. I can only guess that DLC officials were so tickled pink with the news that Blair agreed to write a Blueprint article that they never bothered to read it once it arrived.

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