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More Blair

Some points raised in comments to this post are worth addressing. One is that Tony Blair did not at all make the argument I outlined and appears to have lied (or as they say, "misled") the British people about Iraq's WMD, etc., etc. I haven't followed the ins-and-outs of Blair's statements nearly as closely as I have those of the Bush administration, but the US pattern certainly suggests that this is true. The online quiz I took didn't take this into account, but as I real-life voter I would. Since my policy preferences are pretty closely split between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, the "lying bastard" factor seems to indicate that I should vote Lib Dem. Voting for a Welsh separatist party also has a certain wacky appeal, but I guess that presupposes that I live in Wales which, if I lived in Britain, I kind of doubt I would.

Second, some people think that if Blair had stridently opposed the war, the war wouldn't have happened. If that's right, then my defense of Blair is clearly wrong. But I don't think that position can be seriously defended. British people may like to flatter themselves that their country has this sort of influence, but it just doesn't.

Third, how is this different from saying Blair is "Bush's Poodle?" It's not different. Blair is Bush's poodle. But the United Kingdom is America's poodle on the world stage and it has good reasons for adopting this posture.

Fourth, how could you look the mother of a dead British soldier in the eye and say this to her? Obviously you couldn't. It's crass and awful. I really have no idea what any politcal leader could ever say to the mother of a dead soldier besides "your son died in a noble and worthy cause," which is what, not coincidentally, they all say. Is it true? Every once in a while, maybe. But it gets said no matter what. War is bad.

April 14, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

But the United Kingdom is America's poodle on the world stage and it has good reasons for adopting this posture.

What are these good reasons? How can it be good for a country to be a poodle of another country?

Posted by: abb1 | Apr 14, 2005 12:42:54 PM

This post is Sullivanesque. Amy Sullivanesque. Just admit you were wrong and be done with it.

Posted by: theCoach | Apr 14, 2005 12:45:58 PM

If Bush and Blair deliberately misled the world about Iraq's WMD program, then so did Jane Harman (Dem - California), so did many Democratic senators, so did the German secret services.

Pretty much everybody among the Western secret services and in positions of leadership had access to the same, as it turns out, flawed intelligence. You better change the meme to: "They ALL lied; thousands died."

Posted by: JohnFH | Apr 14, 2005 12:55:25 PM

JohnFH,
We had inspectors with free access on the ground ready to substantiate our claims. This is a silly RNC apologist talking point.

Posted by: theCoach | Apr 14, 2005 1:16:33 PM

Well, here we go again with the old chestnut, "Everyone saw the same intelligence and came to the same conclusions." Geez, if I were the CIA staffers who tried to get the Niger yellowcake content pulled from the SOTU, I think I'd be laughing and crying hysterically all the time now. The UN inspectors hadn't had much of a chance to check the veracity of the intelligence, when they were told to get out of the way of the US invasion. "Pretty much everybody among the Western secret services" didn't use that flawed intelligence to justify invading Iraq. Commission after commission, to say nothing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has flatly refused to address the administration's role in all of this bad intelligence, even with the existence of the Office of Special Plans to cherry-pick raw intelligence favorable to a preordained conclusion. Jim Hoagland wrote a WaPo column prior to the war criticizing CIA analysts for not being hysterical enough about the threat posed by Iraq. But now, it's retroactively the entire fault of the intelligence community that the WMD argument for war was false. Not that that was ever an argument used for invading Iraq; the administration's primary argument has always been bringing democracy.

I will admit that I'm still waiting for Jane Harman's National Security Advisor to be fired for lying to Congress and the American people, since Ms. Harman is in charge of both the Pentagon and the CIA.

Thanks, though, JohnFH, for not (yet) trotting out the Bill Clinton quotes about Saddam Hussein. No troll has yet blamed Bill Clinton for anything that's happened on this administration's watch, and I'd hate for them to start now.

Posted by: mds | Apr 14, 2005 1:20:01 PM

inspectors with free access on the ground

When was that? Certainly not in 2002-03.

Posted by: Al | Apr 14, 2005 1:31:52 PM

Well, actually he did make the argument you lay out. In addition to the WMD issue, he repeatedly talked about the dangers of America acting entirely alone for the future world order.

Posted by: rd | Apr 14, 2005 1:32:37 PM

If Bush and Blair deliberately misled the world about Iraq's WMD program, then so did Jane Harman (Dem - California), so did many Democratic senators, so did the German secret services.

Would that be the same Germany that didn't invade Iraq?

Pretty much everybody among the Western secret services and in positions of leadership had access to the same, as it turns out, flawed intelligence.

And yet, some were smart enough to realize that the intelligence had a high probability of being wrong, and chose not to invade, while others weren't so bright.

I'll never understand why Bush's defenders think claiming "no, see, he didn't lie, he's just really gullible!" is some sort of a defense.

Posted by: cwk | Apr 14, 2005 1:34:10 PM

ABB1 wrote

What are these good reasons? How can it be good for a country to be a poodle of another country?

Not poodle, prostitute. America is the world hegemon, and we'll all sell ourselves, at the right price. Some countries, like Pakistan, nakedly prostitute themselves, selling their honour for textile quotas and F16s, desparately trying to keep the John's attention before the attraction, such as it is, cools and John starts visiting the girl next door.

Others, like the UK, fancy that they are not really prostitutes, but actually have a 'special relationship' with the John. It's a pleasant delusion, and the UK is a high class hooker, not a street whore, so the John plays along. But ultimately, the transaction is the same.

(Canada -- we're the John's moralizing sister, always lecturing our brother, expecting presents as our 'right', and all the while supressing memories of the deeply degrading incestuous acts we engage in.)

But that's the way things work, until some other big country becomes the John. Do they teach the whoremonger theory of international relations at Unversities these days?

Posted by: Ikram | Apr 14, 2005 1:40:54 PM

cwk,

yes, that's the same Germany. And they won't lift a finger militarily against Iran even if they had all the evidence in the world that Iran was acquiring WMDs. Even if they had evidence that Iran was preparing to use them against Israel. They would leave the military intervention to the US or Israel.

That's geopolitics 101.

Posted by: JohnFH | Apr 14, 2005 1:43:24 PM

When was that? Certainly not in 2002-03.

Well, except for that period from Nov. 18th, 2002 until March 18th, 2003 that you apparently slept though.

Posted by: cwk | Apr 14, 2005 1:45:39 PM

mds,

so I guess it's alright according to you that Jane Harman (D- California) *misled* us about the gravity of the threat the Iraqi WMD program seemed to pose in the runup to the war, backing up the Bush administration's claims at the time, because she wasn't running the Pentagon or the CIA when she made her statements.

She was only the highest ranking Democratic member of the House on the appropriate committee at the time.

You set the bar very low in terms of expectations for your fellow Dems. I think you have a double standard.

I do as well. I set the bar higher for the Dems, because they're the ones I want to identify with.

Posted by: JohnFH | Apr 14, 2005 1:53:10 PM

And they won't lift a finger militarily against Iran even if they had all the evidence in the world that Iran was acquiring WMDs.

And you know this exactly how? Let me guess, Rush told you.

You might have a point if Germany was a country that never engages in military interventions. But since they've sent troops to Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Africa, that would be false.

Posted by: cwk | Apr 14, 2005 1:56:28 PM

I'm still not seeing how the UK benefits from being subservient to the US. Does this benefit Britain politically? Economically? Militarily? Diplomatically? What goals, specifically, does the UK accomplish by periodically appeasing the United States?

Posted by: Iron Lungfish | Apr 14, 2005 2:01:01 PM

And they won't lift a finger militarily against Iran even if they had all the evidence in the world that Iran was acquiring WMDs.

I'm sorry, I actually read this as "Iraq", not "Iran". But now it's even more foolish. We already know that Iran is aquiring WMDs, and no one, not even Bush, has shown any desire to handle it militarily.

Posted by: cwk | Apr 14, 2005 2:03:33 PM

"... some people think that if Blair had stridently opposed the war, the war wouldn't have happened. [...] British people may like to flatter themselves that their country has this sort of influence, but it just doesn't."

If Blair had said publicly that Saddam was hardly a threat even to his neighbours, never mind the West, Bush would have had a harder time selling the war. Privately, an official at No. 10 said precisely that and his colleagues did not contradict him.

Posted by: Kevin Donoghue | Apr 14, 2005 2:07:10 PM

That's geopolitics 101.

...at the School for Idiots, where they follow various non-syllogistic logic systems:

Based on claims that they have WMDs, the US invades Iraq.

Based on the "same intelligence" (your words), Germany does not invade Iraq.

At the time of the invasion, Iraq had no WMDs.

Therefore, Germany would never lift a finger against a nation proven to have WMDs, no matter what. QED.

This is an example of what in rhetoric is called, "reasoning by pulling assertions out of one's ass."

Oh, the curriculum also includes blaming ranking minority members of Congressional committees for receiving intelligence information already filtered by the administration, and not creating their own intelligence-gathering agencies to double check. I'm glad you hold Congressional Democrats to a higher standard than the Commander-in-Chief and his entire staff, since you so strongly want to identify with Democrats that you make accusations about Germany straight out of wingnut talking points.

Posted by: mds | Apr 14, 2005 2:08:18 PM

What Kevin D. said.
Blair's opposition alone might not have turned the tide, but it was a possibility that Bush could have been dissuaded, if a number of things happened, and Blair refusing to go along would have been one of those things.

Posted by: The Navigator | Apr 14, 2005 2:08:44 PM

cwk,

and let's hope the US or Israel won't have to handle Iran
militarily. There's some chance they won't, precisely because Israel first (by destroying Saddam's French-built nuclear reactor)and now the US (by taking out Saddam) have shown they mean business.

Posted by: JohnFH | Apr 14, 2005 2:10:13 PM

> Pretty much everybody among the Western secret services
> and in positions of leadership had access to the same, as
> it turns out, flawed intelligence. You better change the
> meme to: "They ALL lied; thousands died."

That's funny, because about 3 weeks before the invasion started I wrote letters to all 3 of my congresspeople telling them that I found the evidence presented unconvincing and that the W Bush Administration had not surmounted the barrier necessary for the United States to initiate an unprovoked invasion of another soverign nation.

Now, I am just one Citizen, but (a) I know a bunch of people who sent the same to their congresspeople (b) Tom Clancy, the Radical Right's favorite commentator on things military, said the same and was quoted on CNN and in the NYT.

So I guess there are a few of us out here who weren't fooled, eh?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Apr 14, 2005 2:11:15 PM

mds,

calm down already. I don't read or listen to (right)wingnuts, so I don't know what you are talking about. As for (left)wingnuts, well, some of my best friends are . . .

I do read the German press. I've followed Joschka Fischer with interest over the years. It's not the Beruf (calling) of the German people to militarily intervene in world affairs. There's a consensus about that in Germany. What you would expect in the aftermath of the Third Reich.

As for your belief that Jane Harman was duped, now that's a convenient theory. And the same holds for the Democratic senators who made speeches and voted in favor of authorizing the war.

And that's why Congress voted for regime change in Iraq during the Clinton administration. All dupes.

Well maybe. Bush and Cheney, rockstars that they are, should have gotten it right. You have more respect for them than I do.

Posted by: JohnFH | Apr 14, 2005 2:28:23 PM

Would you stop feeding the troll, people, please. My finger is tired of scrolling over Jane Harman crap. Please.

Posted by: abb1 | Apr 14, 2005 2:38:37 PM

Yeah, Ikram, what exactly do the British get - quotas? F16s? The EU economy is as big as the US economy now, so this must be related to military stuff, correct?

I read an article in the Guardian a few years ago that said IIRC that the British military and British government don't have launching codes for British own nukes on British own submarines - only the US military has the codes. How can it be good for the Brits?

Posted by: abb1 | Apr 14, 2005 2:45:13 PM

Cranky,

I agree with you. You were right and I was wrong in the runup to the war about the Iraqi WMD program. Or so it appears now, pending new information.

But I can't be accused of misleading someone just because I was wrong. To mislead in this context implies that I knew one thing to be true and claimed something very different to be true.

Furthermore, I was not duped by Bush or Powell or Tenet or anyone else except that nutcase Saddam, who may in turn have been duped by his own scientists whom he had scared shitless.

I always took B-P-T with a grain of salt, and paid more attention to, for example, to what Pollack, Berman, and Makiya had to say, or what other secret service organizations outside of our own were saying.

Besides the not very many people like you who got it right about the Iraqi WMD program in the runup to the war, there was another group of people, not very many again, who thought it way overdue to take out Saddam and his fascist cohorts by whatever means necessary, irregardless of the state of the Iraqi WMD program.

If you wish to insult, call us neo-cons. I've heard that term misapplied to Berman, Pollack, and Makiya as well. As Blair (another neo-con I suppose) said, it will be for History to judge.

Posted by: JohnFH | Apr 14, 2005 2:55:40 PM

Yeah, Ikram, what exactly do the British get - quotas? F16s?

Well, abb1 (if that is your real name), if you had permitted me to continue feeding the troll, I was about to make the irrefutable argument that the British get Jane Harman out of the deal. But it was not to be.

I honestly think that Mr. Blair was hoping to get some of the previously-discussed intangibles out of this (e.g., "for the greater good"), rather than anything as tawdry as an out-and-out payoff. Even with my strident criticism of Mr. Blair "misspeaking" about the Iraq threat, it seems I am still willing to give him some benefit of the doubt. Now if it turns out that (for example) he's getting payola from one of Tom DeLay's groups, I'll have to throw what little regard I have for him on the scrap heap. Which is already a very large heap.

Posted by: mds | Apr 14, 2005 3:08:11 PM

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