Saturday, March 13, 2004

Blair, conman and war criminal, simply out of his depth "'And the clouds came flying through the air bringing winds and hurling lightning and arrows, and it rained hail, fire and swords, and killed a great number of people.' So cried the Florentine monk Savonarola of the coming Day of Judgment in 1492. The terrified citizens duly rose and followed him into a disastrous alliance with Italy's new conqueror, Charles VIII of France. Four years later they had had enough of Savonarola's apocalyptic waffle, dragged him from his monastery and hanged him. Whenever I hear Tony Blair nowadays, I think of Savonarola."

"I therefore resent Mr Blair, a former member of CND, telling me I am 'in mortal danger of mistaking the nature of the world'. I have some knowledge of that world. Like many journalists, I have visited Beirut, Palestine and Iraq and know that seething discontent in these places can induce fanatical groups to acts of great cruelty. Mr Blair is doing nothing to reduce that discontent and much to exacerbate it."

"The technology of terror has in reality advanced little beyond the 1970s and 1980s. Suicide bombs have been used in the Middle East for two decades... Bombs kill and panic the panicky. But they do not undermine civilised society unless that society wants to be undermined. The destructive potential of these bombs is not remotely �mass�, nor is the threat comparable with that of the Blitz or nuclear weapons. It is astonishing that we have to tell the prime minister of the day that the British state is not in serious risk of being toppled."

"Between December 2002 and February 2003 Downing Street was issuing �threats� at a rate of one a fortnight, backed by briefings from Sir John Stevens of the Metropolitan Police and Mr Blair's security official, Sir David Omand. Each was subtly different, issued by Alastair Campbell at weekends when news was light."

"What devastated Mr Blair's argument - a thing he refused to acknowledge at Sedgefield - was George Bush's determination to go to war after failing to get UN authorisation, and pre-empting the UN's inspectors. Mr Blair's continued pretence that he was really helping the UN is like a lynch mob claiming to be 'helping the judge'. He saw his duty as first and foremost to stick with America, as he once put it, 'to broaden her agenda'. That was his priority and that led him to his present predicament. Not since Suez has Washington so subverted a British prime minister. There was no shred of evidence, even from loyal lawyers and intelligence analysts, to justify Mr Blair joining Mr Bush in pre-empting Hans Blix and his UN team. Mr Blix was a man whose work was later shown by his successor, David Kay, to have been honest and thorough. There was no threat to Britain justifying the pre-emption. Iraq had nothing to do with any terrorist threat to Britain."

"[Blair] abandoned such caution in favour of unilateral regime change. He claimed an urgent need to override any UN consensus and change international law. He wanted what he judges to be 'brutal and oppressive regimes' to be attacked militarily even if not guilty of a 'humanitarian catastrophe'. This is wild stuff... I cannot believe that many even within Mr Blair's entourage would support this scale of ambition. The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive intervention, supported by Mr Blair in Iraq, demands that the nation and its armed services put total faith in the analytical and predictive skills of their leaders. Evidence of those skills before Iraq is starkly absent. After the mother of all invasions will shortly come the mother of all memoirs, as insiders tell 'the truth' about Downing Street and the White House last year. I sense it will not be nice."

"The singer George Michael spoke in last Saturday's Daily Telegraph of attending the Blairs' celebrity dinner in their home in 1997. He came away disconcerted, he said, both because of the amount of religion talked and because Mr Blair 'did not seem the smartest man at the table'. Other Blair guests have reached similar conclusions... His self-image has led him into a mire of dodgy dossiers, dodgier law, scare-mongering, spin and sanctimony. The British Prime Minister is simply out of his depth."

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