Tony Blair’s deadly legacy reaps Save The Children award

Tony Blair

Matthew Yglesias under a Creative Commons Licence

‘At Save The Children we want to delight and surpass your expectations.’
Save The Children website, complaints page

When the Orwellian-named ‘Middle East Peace Envoy’ Tony Blair was named Philanthropist of the Year by GQ magazine in September for ‘his tireless charitable work’ (tell that to the dismembered, dispossessed and traumatized of Iraq and Afghanistan) there was widespread disbelief.

Two months later, Blair, also known as the Butcher of Baghdad, Dodgy Dossier Master, and Sanctions Endorser of an embargo that, according to the UN, condemned to death 6,000 children a month, was awarded Save The Children’s Global Legacy Award at a Gala Charity at The Plaza in New York.

According to a Save The Children spokesperson, Blair was chosen for the Award for his work as Prime Minister, which included setting up the Department for International Development (DfID). As both Leader of the Opposition (1994-97) and then Prime Minister (1997-2007) Blair emphatically endorsed the Iraq embargo, and thus the silent monthly infanticide.

Between US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s admission in 1996 that ‘over half a million children had died’ (but that ‘we think the price was worth it’) and Blair’s time as prime minister from 1997 to the 2003 invasion, a further half a million children died (do the maths). Yet Save The Children – whose commitment ‘No Child Born to Die’ is at the top of each page of the charity’s website – have honoured this tyrant.

In his acceptance speech, Blair praised USAID and ‘the magnificent American and British military’, alongside Save The Children and other NGOs, for their work in Africa. This is the same USAID whose decades long inter-stepping with the CIA is a dark, shocking saga; the same US and British military which destroyed Iraq.

It has to be hoped that this shameful lauding of a man who should be answering to a Nuremberg-model war crimes tribunal, and on whom the Chilcot Inquiry is still to release its findings, has nothing to do with the fact that Chief Executive of Save the Children Justin Forsyth was in 2004 ‘recruited to No 10 [Downing Street] by Tony Blair’ and later became ‘Strategic Communications and Campaigns Director’ for Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown. Brown, of course, had been the Chancellor of the Exchequer who supported and wrote cheques for Blair’s lies and the resultant destruction of Iraq.

Another Save The Children executive, Chief Financial Officer Sam Aharpe, ‘worked for nearly 30 years with the UK Government development programme’, including under Tony Blair, according to their website. Fergus Drake, Save The Children’s Director of Global Programmes since 2009, had previously ‘worked for the Office of Tony Blair in Rwanda advising President Kagame.’

The day after Blair’s Gala Award, Save The Children, with UNICEF and other aid agencies, released a statement to mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on The Rights of the Child. Called ‘Stepping up the global effort to advance the rights of every child’, the enshrined commitments were ‘not only to some children, but to all children… not only to advance some of their rights, but all their rights – including their right to survive and to thrive, to grow and to learn, to have their voices heard and heeded, and to be protected from discrimination and violence in all its manifestations.’

Irony, chutzpah, hypocrisy eat your hearts out.

Of course, as Gaza was decimated again in July and August, resulting in over 2,000 deaths (including nearly 500 children), the Middle East ‘Peace Envoy’ fled his posh pad in Jerusalem and gave a two-month-early ‘surprise birthday party’ for his wife in one of his seven British mansions, safely out of the firing line. He said nothing about saving the children, or indeed anyone else. He has subsequently been silent about Gaza’s 475,000 souls living in emergency conditions, the 17,200 destroyed homes and the 244 damaged schools.

So as Save The Children lauds Blair and trumpets the Rights of the Child, they should reflect on the horror he helped to inflict. Perhaps one letter encapsulates the anger targeted at Save The Children for their aberrant, deviant action with numerous calls for a boycott of the organization echoing around the world:

Dear Save the Children,

I am outraged that Save the Children has seen fit to contribute to the impunity, whitewashing and rehabilitation of one of the most serious war criminals of our time, Tony Blair, by awarding him a Save the Children Global Legacy Award. As Prime Minister, Mr Blair was warned consistently and repeatedly by FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] legal advisers that to invade Iraq would constitute the crime of aggression, which the judges at Nuremberg called the ‘supreme international crime’ because it ‘contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole’. In Mr Blair’s case, the ‘accumulated evil’ now includes hundreds of thousands of people killed, cities and villages reduced to rubble and the destruction of an entire society.

This award is especially horrifying coming from Save the Children, because Mr Blair is legally culpable in the deaths of tens of thousands of children killed in Iraq, mainly by coalition air strikes. The most thorough epidemiological study of excess mortality in Iraq as a result of the invasion and hostile military occupation found that American and British aerial bombardment was the leading cause of violent death for children in Iraq between 2003 and 2006.

I am bccing this email to about a thousand people, and I hope that all who receive it will take note and, in future, direct their efforts to help children to … other organizations who are not complicit in whitewashing the mass murder of children in Iraq.

With all due (but greatly diminished) respect
Nicolas J S Davies
Author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq

Front cover, New Internationalist December 2014 issueThis is an abridged and edited version of an article that originally appeared on the Global Research website. Sign 38 Degrees' online petition to get Save The Children to revoke the award here.

Look out for the December 2014 issue of New Internationalist magazine, which asks: NGOs - do they really help?