Sunday, June 24, 2007

Robert Fisk on the idea of Tony Blair as special envoy for the Middle East

British journalist Robert Fisk gives his caustic view of President Bush's suggestion that outgoing British premier Tony Blair be appointed the Quartet envoy to work on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement: How can Blair possibly be given this job? Independent 06/23/07. Fisk consistently refers to Blair sarcastically as "Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara", referring to a city in eastern Iraq where British forces were defeated and 10,000 British soldiers compelled to surrender to the Ottoman army during the First World War. Blair hasn't actually been knighted yet, though it's customary for former prime ministers to receive knighthood soon after they leave office, so he probably will be knighted in the near future.
I suppose that astonishment is not the word for it. Stupefaction comes to mind. I simply could not believe my ears in Beirut when a phone call told me that Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara was going to create "Palestine". I checked the date - no, it was not 1 April - but I remain overwhelmed that this vain, deceitful man, this proven liar, a trumped-up lawyer who has the blood of thousands of Arab men, women and children on his hands is really contemplating being "our" Middle East envoy.

Can this really be true? I had always assumed that Balfour, Sykes and Picot were the epitome of Middle Eastern hubris. But Blair? That this ex-prime minister, this man who took his country into the sands of Iraq, should actually believe that he has a role in the region - he whose own preposterous envoy, Lord Levy, made so many secret trips there to absolutely no avail - is now going to sully his hands (and, I fear, our lives) in the world's last colonial war is simply overwhelming.
By "the world's last colonial war", Fisk means the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and the conflict over them now entering its fifth decade.

The Independent also has an article on three Catholics on Blair's Downing Street staff who left their posts because of their religious objections to the Iraq War:
PM's Iraq war 'helped drive Catholics out of Downing Street' by Andrew Grice and Andy McSmith 06/23/07.

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