Thursday, 29 September 2011

Tony Blair the Neocon

The newspapers are reporting today that Tony Blair is no longer respected by Palestinian groups in his role as a Middle East Peace Envoy. The PLO have drawn up a motion to declare Blair a persona non grata because of his perceived 'pro-Israel' bias. Mr Blair will not be helped in defending this accusation of bias by stories that have been coming out over recent weeks about Blair using his position to aid Israeli companies, and an alleged affair with an Israeli tycoon.

One group you wouldn't expect Blair to receive much sympathy from are those on the right of the political spectrum. To name a few of their grievances, British conservatives and small 'c' liberals,  see Blair as a socialist who pretended to be on the side of business; a corrupt prime minister whose Chancellor spent excessively and a man hell bent on a policy of multi-culturalism which made social cohesion a thing of the past in Britain.

However, when it comes to foreign affairs Blair has a pretty right wing track record. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq became all about ensuring democracy and liberalism in very religious Islamic societies. This approach was what Blair called "liberal interventionism" but it is what Americans call "neoconservative". It was here that Blair and Bush were almost always on the same page.

Ivring Kristol famously declared that "A neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality". Blair's rhetoric on the problem the world faces from radical Islam is very strong and would indicate that he has indeed been mugged. In his book My Journey, Blair writes about the dangerous level of sympathy Islamic terrorists receive from Muslims of all levels of faith and observance- not just radicals.

The Palestinians plan to oust Blair from his role and unsurprisingly right wingers don't seem to be rushing to his defence. But if Blair does go, and a new envoy comes along who is more acceptable to the Palestinians, conservatives might actually miss him for once.

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