‘Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?’
(Epitaphs of War, Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936)
We live in strange times. In October 2009, the fledgling President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples’. He was ‘surprised and deeply humbled’, accepting it as ‘a call to action’. Oh good, a call to more ‘diplomacy and co-operation’ then? Not quite.
Under this shining example of all the Nobel Peace Prize now stands for, US drones are killing citizens of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia
Two months later Obama announced that killing more Afghans and throwing millions of dollars into doing it was his first priority. (He didn’t quite put it like that. He told an audience at West Point on 30 September 2009 that the deployment of 30,000 additional troops was a goal vital to ‘the common security of the world’. It would ‘break the Taliban’s momentum and increase Afghanistan’s capacity’. Goals would not be set ‘beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests’.)
Six and a half months in to 2010 US deaths from IEDs (impovised explosive devices) alone have reached 188, already exceeding the 152 for the whole of 2008, in ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’. Total deaths for 2009 within Afghanistan were 317, this year they are already 231. (1) Youthful dismemberments, disfigurements and deaths, on a hiding to nowhere, are seemingly part of those ‘interests’. Enduring freedom indeed, from life and limb, with of course, Afghan killings and casualties ‘not productive to count’.
Under this shining example of all the Nobel Peace Prize now stands for, US drones are killing citizens of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Iran is in the cross hairs and Poland has had the dubious honour of hosting US missiles, to protect it in case it is attacked by – Iran, according to the seemingly increasingly delusional US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world
Into this Orwellian world, enter ‘Teflon Tony’ Blair, set to collect the latest in a glittering array of Awards for services to humanity. His contribution to the betterment of humankind has included enjoining the US, in the Afghanistan invasion and between 1997 and 2003, in the silent cull of an average of 6,000 Iraqi children a month, instructing Britain’s UN officials to veto everything from vaccines to ventolin, insulin to incubators and intubators, paper to pencils, female hygiene appliances, to aids for children at the schools for the blind and deaf.
Into this Orwellian world, enter ‘Teflon Tony’ Blair, set to collect the latest in a glittering array of Awards for services to humanity
After six years of this decimation under his watch, added to the previous seven under his predecessor, John Major, Blair’s officials cooked up a pack of lies. He ignored the advice of his top Law Lord, Lord Goldsmith, and joined his little friend on Capitol Hill, in reducing what remained of the Cradle of Civilization, to an illegally invaded pile of rubble, the destruction of swathes of its ancient history and historical records, and the lynching, ‘disappearing’ and imprisoning of a legitimate government, whose sovereignty was guaranteed by the United Nations.
Recent estimates are that a further million Iraqis have died since the invasion, almost certainly an underestimate, since those in remoter areas are often unrecorded, as are those who died in vast numbers at the sieges of Najav, Tel Afar, the two assaults on Falluja and numerous other mass murders.
Lord Goldsmith, it now transpires, had written in his advice, six weeks before the invasion of Iraq: ‘My opinion is that Resolution 1441 does not revive the authorisation to use force … in the absence of a further decision by the Security Council.’ Barrister Blair scribbled in the margin: ‘I just do not understand this.’ Did anyone ask which part of ‘No’ he could not grasp? Two weeks later the legal opinion was reiterated in a further note.
The good, the bad and the ugly
Blair of course, walked from this carnage to be Middle East Peace Envoy, telling Parliament on his resignation: ‘As I learned … it is important to be able to bring people together.’ He can undoubtedly do delusion with some of the greats. As William Blum recently pointed out:
General Augusto Pinochet of Chile, mass murderer and torturer: ‘I would like to be remembered as a man who served his country.’
PW Botha, former president of apartheid South Africa: ‘I am not going to repent. I am not going to ask for favours. What I did, I did for my country.’
Pol Pot, mass murderer of Cambodia: ‘I want you to know that everything I did, I did for my country.’
Tony Blair, former British prime minister, defending his role in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis: ‘I did what I thought was right for our country.’
Patriotism is indeed the last refuge of the scoundrel.
Blair certainly did what he ‘thought was right’ for Tony Blair. As Peter Oborne pointed out in March : ‘We now know that the wretched Blair has multiplied his personal fortune many times over by trading off the connections he made while in Downing Street. Shockingly, he fought a long battle to conceal the source of his new-found wealth, and only this month did it finally become public that one of his largest clients was a South Korean oil company, the UI Energy Corporation, with extensive interests in Iraq … he has also made £1million from advising the Kuwaiti royal family. It can be fairly claimed that Blair has profiteered as a result of the Iraq War in which so many hundreds of thousands of people died … in the league of shame, Tony Blair is arguably the worst of them all.’
Teflon Tony joined his little friend on Capitol Hill in reducing what remained of the Cradle of Civilization to an illegally invaded pile of rubble
And the rewards for being an ally in mass starvation and murder, keep rolling in. The latest is the 2010 Liberty Medal, awarded by the US Constitution Centre (plus $100,000 prize money. Small change compared to the estimated $20 million he’s raked in since leaving office, but every little helps.)
The Liberty Medal, according to the Constitution Center ‘reflects the values of the US Constitution – a belief in justice, fairness, self-governance … a balance between individual rights and communal responsibility, in the power of the people … and in resolving issues through deliberation, compromise and respect for diverse viewpoints.’
It is to be presented to him by his close friend and fellow Iraqi children tormenter, ‘Bomber’ Bill Clinton, who says of Blair: ‘Tony continues to demonstrate the same leadership, dedication and creativity in promoting economic opportunity in the Middle East and the resolution of conflicts rooted in religion around the world, and is building the capacity of developing nations to govern honestly and effectively. I’m pleased the Constitution Center is awarding him the Liberty Medal in recognition of his work to promote the actions necessary to make peace, reconciliation, and prosperity possible.’
‘Economic opportunity’ indeed.
Million dollar baby
If your head is not yet over a bucket, David Eisner, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, said: ‘Tony Blair has significantly furthered the expansion of freedom, self-governance, equality and peaceful coexistence. This award recognizes both his dedication to and his success in building understanding among nations and creating lasting solutions in areas of conflict.’
‘TeflonTony’ responded: ‘It is an honour to receive the Liberty Medal … Freedom, liberty and justice are the values by which this medal is struck. Freedom, liberty and justice are the values which I try to apply to my work … preparing the Palestinians for statehood. They are the values which drive … as we try to show that people of different faiths can live together constructively, in peace and harmony.’
Barrister Blair scribbled in the margin: ‘I just do not understand this.’ Did anyone ask which part of ‘No’ he could not grasp?
He will be donating the prize money to two of his charities. He said the same thing when he won a million dollars in February 2009 with the Dan David Award, from the Tel Aviv-based Dan David Foundation, for his ‘steadfast determination and morally courageous leadership’. Revolving doors come to mind.
A month earlier he had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W Bush for being ‘a true friend of the United States (who has) at his very centre (belief) in freedom.’ Tell that to the Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians with the ghettoized people of Gaza. He was in good company, receiving it with Australia’s former Prime Minister John Howard and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, both adherents to Blair and Bush’s particularly unique interpretation of freedom.
Patriotism is indeed the last refugee of the scoundrel
In July 2009, he pitched up to collect his Fenner Brockway Award, in London (for ‘shared vision … global role in working for justice and security’.) with a black eye. Had someone finally found a dark night, a dark alley and a baseball bat?
Incidentally, six of those who were awarded the Liberty Medal have gone on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It was Tom Lehrer who said: ‘Satire became redundant the day Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.’ No longer.
Blair may already share something with Kissinger: checking with his legal advisers every time he boards a plane, should he be arrested for war crimes on arrival.
And just another reminder, George Orwell’s real name was Eric Arthur Blair.