I suppose that astonishment is not the word for it. Stupefaction comes to mind. I simply could not believe my ears in
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
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 “
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
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
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
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
Which of “
I have never been able to figure out why the
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?