I have hardly ever mentioned Tony Blair specifically by name, if at all. This is something of a surprise; he is, after all, the architect of almost everything that is presently wrong with Britain, England, the Labour Party and ‘the centre ground’.
However, his appearance yesterday at the Chilcot Enquiry into the catastrophic, morally wrong and unjustifiable war in Iraq was fascinating. Not only because he almost avoided all the headlines courtesy of Alan Johnson’s resignation and then Andy Coulson’s resignation, but because in one short statement, he was so incredibly lucid in his beliefs around the concepts of the nation state.
‘I can understand a right-wing Tory opposed to ‘nation-building’ being opposed to it on grounds it hasn’t any direct bearing on our national interest. But in fact a political philosophy that does care about other nations – e.g. Kosovo, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone – and is prepared to change regimes on the merits, should be gung-ho on Saddam.”
This kind of statement is truly masterful, and a vivid depiction of how Blair manipulated language and entire political divisions in order to assert the moral rectitude only of himself and those who directly agree with him. The quote – a mere two sentences long – requires a good deal of analysis to ascertain what he has said and why he said it.
Firstly, those who know of Blair’s waffle in the long term know he only deploys the term ‘right-wing Tory’ in an almost perjorative manner. Here, he uses it as a sweeping metaphor for all those opposed to Blair’s morally correct weltanschauung. This is not to say that Blair is wrong, he is actually correct: a true right-wing Tory could never have conscionably supported the war in Iraq because it is needless meddling in, and would obviously result in, the deliberate demolition of an extant sovereign nation state. And as he rightly states, a true right-wing Tory could never support regime-change in a sovereign state that could not possibly have produced a direct threat to Britain or Britain’s interest. Enoch Powell was precisely correct in his observations, and was predictably prescient, in 1990 during the Gulf War:
The world is full of evil men engaged in doing evil things. That does not make us policemen to round them up nor judges to find them guilty and to sentence them. What is so special about the ruler of Iraq that we suddenly discover that we are to be his jailers and his judges? … we as a nation have no interest in the existence or non-existence of Kuwait or, for that matter, Saudi Arabia as an independent state… I sometimes wonder if, when we shed our power, we omitted to shed our arrogance.
The Sunday Correspondent (21 October, 1990)
But where Blair ‘drops a clanger’, as it were, is in his laughable statement about ‘nation building’. This is precisely the same man who caused Britain to fall apart and become a piecemeal collection of nations under the tyranny of unequal, illogical and undemocratic devolution. Who surrendered England to the EU’s regionalised idiocy. Who ceded only those powers to Britain’s constituent nations that did not undermine his party’s control over what remained of the British nation. Here, Blair has blithely glossed over one of his most destructive and shameful failures.
Predictably, the second sentence in his answer is equally foolish. He appears to suggest that the only political philosophy that ‘cares’ about other nations is one of armed intervention, intended to deliberately impose upon a nation a system of Governance that has always been alien to that nation. See Afghanistan. See a still largely unrecognised Kosovo; I do not call the foundation of what is internationally regarded as a ‘disputed territory’ to be sufficient evidence of a ‘caring’ foreign policy.
The paradox, dear reader, is this: Blair remains entirely unchanged. His suits, his self-excluding blame, his weasel words and his bare-faced deceit. But all around him, everything he has touched with his malign influence has been unalterably damaged, in some ways, irreparably.