This – everything. One hundred percent. Blair’s knighthood is long overdue.
He saw in Kosovo a resurgence of ethnic conflict in Europe and outlined his Chicago Doctrine of liberal interventionism. He saw public services that had benefited from significant injections of resource without enough in the way of reform. There is courage with him, too. It would have been easy for him to do a Schröder or a Chirac in the aftermath of 9/11 and pander to domestic anti-Americanism. He would have won plaudits from his own party, the media and the liberal intelligentsia. Instead, he stood by the US, not least over Iraq, because he considered it a moral struggle and thought by America’s side was where Britain ought to be. Approve or revile his decision, he made it aware of the political costs at home… Does he deserve a knighthood? Of course he does: for service to our country, for service to his party, for the wise counsel he provides on everything from the Middle East to Covid-19. The only question is why it took so long for him to become Sir Tony.
Important, in light of Chilcot, to remember the following: Saddam Hussein was the war criminal. Not Tony Blair and not George Bush. And neither Bush nor Blair lied their countries into a war. The Chilcot Report says nothing of the kind. Read it.
I miss Hitchens! A good moment to re-read these words of his:
When Tony Blair took office, Slobodan Milosevic was cleansing and raping the republics of the former Yugoslavia. Mullah Omar was lending Osama bin Laden the hinterland of a failed and rogue state. Charles Taylor of Liberia was leading a hand-lopping militia of enslaved children across the frontier of Sierra Leone, threatening a blood-diamond version of Rwanda in West Africa. And the wealth and people of Iraq were the abused private property of Saddam Hussein and his crime family. Today, all of these Caligula figures are at least out of power, and at the best either dead or on trial. How can anyone with a sense of history not grant Blair some portion of credit for this? And how can anybody with a tincture of moral sense go into a paroxysm and yell that it is he who is the war criminal? It is as if all the civilians murdered by al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be charged to his account. This is the chaotic mentality of Julian Assange and his groupies.
That is moral clarity, people. My late brother had it, too. Really miss the wisdom of both of those men.