Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Blair Enigma

David Seaton's News Links
It occurs to me that Tony Blair defines the era we live in... the only problem being, I can't define Tony Blair. He is an ignis fatuus, a will o' the wisp.

Blair is a man who has no equal in his understanding of the politics of today. A man who can play the system's virtual reality like a Bach organist's toccata and fugue, but who has been utterly ruined by reality/reality in its ageless shape of war.

Perhaps this tells us more about our system's divorce from reality than it tells us about Tony Blair. DS

A Player Who Never Found His Stage - New York Times
Abstract: A little over a decade after he came in as the young hope of a New Britain, Tony Blair, who is expected to announce his resignation date today, is a figure vilified and loathed by his own party and disliked by people in Britain at large. There is, however, one good legacy he bequeaths us, and we should not be ungenerous in recognizing it. That is peace in Ireland. Both sides in the Northern Irish dispute hate the English, and both have good reason to do so. This hatred was a substantial reason successive British prime ministers, many of them doing their very best to undo the mistakes of the past, got nowhere with the Irish.(...) Mr. Blair, however, is a boundlessly superficial person, and he was perfectly happy to swim about in the weird world of Irish politics where words could mean anything you liked. Most of his sentences would be untranslatable. They were even delivered in quite different accents, as though he was more than one person, which in a way he is. This multifaceted quality was very useful in Ireland. He is a naturally pleasant, polite person. And he has courage. These qualities have been an essential ingredient in the Irish peace process. They have led to the Alice in Wonderland situation we now have, in which the government of Northern Ireland has been placed in the hands of two sworn enemies — the extreme Protestant minister Ian Paisley and the former I.R.A. guerrilla Martin McGuinness.(...) Iraq has been a fiasco, but I think he got involved in the calamity because, once again, he is superficial, decent and brave. The superficiality made him think it would be a quick and easy operation, like the military action in 2000 in Sierra Leone, where the British Army nipped in and out to remove a rogue warlord. Alas, his disregard for truth — indeed it seems very unlikely he even quite knows what truth is in this case — led him to think it did not matter what reason he gave for sending in the troops. You have to concede that he has been brave in his unwavering support for the war, but not so brave as the many people who have died as a result of his and President Bush’s calamitous mistake. READ IT ALL

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