Friday, June 29, 2007

Blair Bloody Hands in for Middle East

How can Blair possibly be given this job?

Here is a politician who has failed in everything
he has ever tried to do in the Middle East

by Robert Fisk June 27, 2007

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.

Of course, he'll be in touch with Mahmoud Abbas, will try to marginalise
Hamas, will talk endlessly about "moderates"; and we'll have to listen to
him pontificating about morality, how he's absolutely and completely
confident that he's doing the right thing (and this, remember, is the same
man who postponed a ceasefire in Lebanon last year in order to share
George Bush's ridiculous hope of an Israeli victory over Hizbollah) in
bringing peace to the Middle East...

Not once - ever - has he apologised. Not once has he said he was sorry for
what he did in our name. Yet Lord Blair actually believes - in what must
be a record act of self-indulgence for a man who cooked up the fake
evidence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" - that he can do good in
the Middle East.

For here is a man who is totally discredited in the region - a politician
who has signally failed in everything he ever tried to do in the Middle
East - now believing that he is the right man to lead the Quartet to patch
up "Palestine".

In the hunt for quislings to do our bidding - ie accept even less of
Mandate Palestine than Arafat would stomach - I suppose Blair has his
uses. His unique blend of ruthlessness and dishonesty will no doubt go
down quite well with our local Arab dictators.

And I have a suspicion - always assuming this extraordinary story is not
untrue - that Blair will be able to tour around Damascus, even Tehran, in
his hunt for "peace", thus paving the way for an American exit strategy in
Iraq. But "Palestine"?

The Palestinians held elections - real, copper-bottomed ones, the
democratic variety - and Hamas won. But Blair will presumably not be able
to talk to Hamas. He'll need to talk only to Abbas's flunkies, to
negotiate with an administration described so accurately this week by my
old colleague Rami Khoury as a "government of the imagination".

The Americans are talking - and here I am quoting the State Department
spokesman, Sean McCormack - about an envoy who can work "with the
Palestinians in the Palestinian system" to develop institutions for a
"well-governed state". Oh yes, I can see how that would appeal to Lord
Blair. He likes well-governed states, lots of "terror laws", plenty of
security - though I'm still a bit puzzled about what the "Palestinian
system" is meant to be.

It was James Wolfensohn who was originally "our" Middle East envoy, a
former World Bank president who left in frustration because he could
neither reconstruct Gaza nor work with a "peace process" that was being
eroded with every new Jewish settlement and every Qassam rocket fired into
Israel. Does Blair think he can do better? What honeyed words will we hear?

I bet he doesn't mention the Israeli wall which is taking so much extra
land from the Palestinians. It will be a "security barrier" or a "fence"
(like the famous Berlin "fence" which was actually called a "security
barrier" by those generous East German Vopo cops of the time).

There will be appeals for restraint "on all sides", endless calls for
"moderation", none at all for justice (which is all the people of the
Middle East have been pleading for over the past 100 years).

And Israel likes Lord Blair. Indeed, Blair's slippery use of language is
likely to appeal to Ehud Olmert, whose government continues to take Arab
land for Jews and Jews only as he waits to discover a Palestinian with
whom he can "negotiate", Mahmoud Abbas now having the prestige of a rabbit
after his forces were crushed in Gaza.

Which of "Palestine"'s two prime ministers will Blair talk to? Why, the
one with a collar and tie, of course, who works for Mr Abbas, who will
demand more "security", tougher laws, less democracy.

I have never been able to figure out why the Middle East draws the
Balfours and the Sykeses and the Blairs into its maw. Once, our favourite
trouble-shooter was James Baker - who worked for George W's father until
the Israelis got tired of him - and before that we had a whole list of UN
Secretary Generals who visited the region, frowned and warned of serious
consequences if peace did not soon come.

I recall another man with Blair's pomposity, a certain Kurt Waldheim, who
- no longer the UN's boss - actually believed he could be an "envoy" for
peace in the Middle East, despite his little wartime career as an
intelligence officer for the Wehrmacht's Army Group "E".

His visits - especially to the late King Hussein - came to nothing, of
course. But Waldheim's ability to draw a curtain over his wartime past
does have one thing in common with Blair. For Waldheim steadfastly,
pointedly, repeatedly, refused to acknowledge - ever - that he had ever
done anything wrong. Now who does that remind you of?

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posted by u2r2h at 11:32 AM


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