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Saturday, January 13, 2007 

The continuing last gasps of our very own messiah.

I was going to fisk Blair's utterly abysmal speech yesterday, but Tom on BlairWatch has already done the job and done it well, so here's a more slimmed down version.

Billed by the BBC as being the first in a series of "valedictory" speeches, it wasn't so much a farewell as yet another example of his inexorable retreat from reality. While on Question Time this week members of the audience, prompted by fucking Kelvin MacKenzie of all people, demanded that Lord Falconer tell his friend to apologise for the Iraq war, what's more apparent than ever is that Blair isn't just not sorry for what's happened, he still believes in his own righteousness. He then has the audacity to apparently demand the army and families accept that death and injury are consequences of armed conflict, as if they didn't both know that, but also accept it:

On the part of the military, they need to accept that in a volunteer armed force, conflict and therefore casualty may be part of what they are called upon to face.
This is where Blair just can't see the wood for the trees. He can't accept that the army, which wasn't keen on the war in the first place, is now concerned that they're fighting a losing battle in Iraq, while complaining about the inadequacies of both their equipment once at war and the facilities provided for them back home. Blair's hubris is that despite all his claims that he accepts his views on foreign policy are "controversial", both this speech and the way in which it was delivered shows that he considers his views as both the only sane policy, and as the only policy. The army's apparent dissent in recent months, fed up with a situation on the ground in Iraq which they can do little to solve except get shot at in the process, is in Blair's eyes almost mutiny. How dare they think that his war is a disaster and that they should get out very soon? That this war was justified on a tissue of lies doesn't matter to Blair; he still expects families and the army to fight and not bleat when their sons and comrades die for what is called by the moderate oppositionists "a flawed prospectus".

Then there's this:

"September 11 wasn’t the incredible action of an isolated group, a one-off strike masterminded by Osama Bin Laden. It was the product rather of a world-wide movement, with an ideology based on a misreading of Islam, whose roots were deep, which had been growing for years and with the ability to mount a radically different type of warfare requiring a radically different type of response. What we face is not a criminal conspiracy or even a fanatical but fringe terrorist organisation. We face something more akin to revolutionary Communism in its early and most militant phase. It is global. It has a narrative about the world and Islam’s place within it that has a reach into most Muslim societies and countries. "
On the contrary, September the 11th was indeed the incredible action of an isolated group, but it was masterminded by its own participants rather than OBL. Nothing in the past six years has come close to replicating it. To compare the threat faced by militant Islam, which has been vastly exaggerated, as Blair is doing in this very speech, to revolutionary Communism, which took control of numerous countries during the last century is pure nonsense. The Taliban have no chance of returning to Afghanistan, and even they had only a casual relationship with the Salafist jihadism of bin Laden. The only place where such a militant Islam could take hold is ironically in Iraq, thanks to our misjudged invasion, and even then it would only be in the Anbar region, where the temporary alliance between ex-Baathists and jihadists is already being questioned by both sides. That we have in fact only exacerbated the problems in the Middle East through the Iraq war, giving far more succour to the extremists both at home and abroad than any regime currently can or does is something that Blair is not willing to recognise: to do so would be the equivalent of saying the emperor has no clothes.

Still he goes on:

That, in turn, impacts on the feelings of our Armed Forces. They want public opinion not just behind them but behind their mission. They want the "people back home" to understand their value not just their courage.
Public opinion is very firmly behind them, and has been since the beginning of the war. The problem is that the army themselves believe that rather than fighting for the country, they are fighting for Blair, his failed foreign policy, and for American neo-con chicken hawks who avoided going to Vietnam. Not only this, but Blair would rather that the armed forces didn't think for themselves; they see that staying in Iraq is just making things worse, as does the majority of the public. How can the public support their mission when it has so obviously and horribly failed?

Blair though is more interested in blaming everyone other than himself. He attacks other European countries who rightly wanted no part in the Iraq war for only wanting to peace keep; he echoes John Reid when he suggests that the media is too sympathetic to the "propaganda of the enemy"; he demands the army put up with the resources it has; and most of all, he seems to still believe that somehow Britain will remain this "great" power, that continuing with the same arrogant policies that have been put down since the dissolution of empire will somehow maintain the very last vestiges of our fast evaporating global influence. It won't. Blair's belief that our unending alliance with America will eventually foster goodwill towards us is a pipe dream. As he faces his last days as prime minister, rather than evaluating his time in office, laying low and preparing the way for the next leader, he's still driven only by his desire to show that he has been right about everything. He still believes in his powers of persuasion, but he's the only one who does.

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