7 March 2004
There’s something truly scary about Tony Blair and the crew he has assembled around him. This guy is on a ‘mission’ and it is yet another example of serendipity at work insofar as the needs of the moment always throw up someone with the right mentality for the dirty job of building an empire. Enter Tony, crusader for the imperium.
The speech he made this week to his constituency is a defining moment in Blair’s political life because in it, he finally committed himself unambiguously to the so-called neo-con agenda espoused by the likes of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle and Wolfowitz.
By linking 9/11 directly to Iraq, he has also finally dropped any pretence of fighting for ‘democracy’:
“The threat we face is not conventional. It was defined not by Iraq but by September 11.
“11 September was, for me, a revelation.
“Here is the crux. My judgement then and now is that the risk of this new global terrorism and it its interaction with states or organisations or individuals proliferating WMD, is one I am simply not prepared to run.”
In what has become the familiar syntax of Blair’s carefully crafted histrionics, we read:
“Sit in my seat. Here is the intelligence [sic]. Here is the advice [sic]. Do you ignore it? But, intelligence is precisely that: intelligence. It is not hard fact. It has its limitations. But in making that judgement, would you prefer us to act, even if it turns out to be wrong?”
This is news-speak taken to new heights of dissembling. Intelligence is just what? Intelligence. Break it down and the sentence is a meaningless, empty phrase. ‘Intelligence’ is no longer something that is based on fact, it is now merely ‘advice’ that according to Blair, he cannot ignore.
Blair moreover, plays with reality when he says:
“It [the decision to invade Iraq] remains deeply divisive.”
But according to Blair, the division is not based on opposition to the invasion but:
“I know a large part of the public want us to move on.”
Whoa! Back up there. So now the division is not about the rights or wrongs of the invasion but according to Blair it has been transformed into the public ‘wanting to move on’? Move on to what exactly? The next war? And in an all too familiar cop-out, opposition to the imperium’s plans are yet again merely the workings of the ‘conspiracists’:
“Each week brings a new attempt to get a new angle that can prove it was all a gigantic conspiracy.”
And in a clear attempt to conflate the issue of ‘conspiracy’ with opposition to the war, Blair links the ‘conspiracists’ to the attack on the Attorney General’s legal opinion by going on to say:
“Most recently is the attempt to cast serious doubt on the Attorney General’s legal opinion. But let’s be clear. Once this has died down, another will take its place and then another and then another.”
Desperate words from a desperate man. Yet where are these ‘attacks’ coming from? We are not told. Instead:
“All of it is an elaborate smokescreen to prevent us seeing the real issue which is not a matter of trust but of judgement…. It was divisive because it was difficult.’
Two elements rolled into one. Firstly, the ‘smokescreen’ that comes from who knows where (the conspirators who, no doubt are hidden behind the ‘smokescreen’), a classic example of propaganda that aims to evoke an invisible but unnamed ‘enemy’ and then the transformation of ‘division’ into that of an issue not about policy or even legality but because it was a ‘difficult’ decision to make. Wonderful but empty rhetoric that attempts to push all the right emotional buttons.
But wait…there’s more. Blair tells us that in his “fervent view” we face a:
“global threat [that is both] real and existential”
“Fervent” – ‘keen, avid, ardent, eager, enthusiastic, passionate, zealous, fanatical, impassioned and burning‘. Strange choice of word as is “existential” (of or about existence), that by implication Blair is telling us that the future of ‘our’ civilisation is on the cards. And why? Because we are fighting an existential war against unseen opponents that is opposed by people who are also hidden behind a ‘smokescreen’ generated of course, by the aforementioned unseen ‘conspirators’.
In many ways, this stuff is straight out of the Spanish Inquisition; like the test for witches that involved dunking the unfortunate women in water and if they drowned they were innocent and if they lived they were guilty by virtue of their witch’s power (that kept them alive) and burnt at the stake.
Every element of Blair’s speech is loaded with pure Orwellian speak, so for example, Blair tells us that:
“[T]he key point is that it is the threat that is the issue [my emph.]”
But although the threat is unseen, it was nevertheless “defined by 11 September.” This enables Blair to effectively sidestep the issue of the invasion of Iraq by subsuming it under the broad and undefined heading of the ‘threat’, so let’s not worry about Iraq. In any case Saddam was an “evil” bastard and:
“The war is not ended. It may be only at the beginning of the first phase.”
The speech is also full of examples of what I can only call ‘future cop-out’ in that, every one of Blair’s key phrases can be taken as having different meanings. Hence the ‘deep divisions’ that Blair describes as us ‘wanting to move on’ could mean two different things. On the one hand, forget the war and the occupation, let me get on with fighting the “threat” or, move on in the sense of getting out of Iraq. Choose your poison.
Ultimately however, this is a duplicitous and desperate speech by a desperate man, that reveals a policy in ruins, with no end in sight to the opposition but that nevertheless, in an apocolyptic message, Blair will fight on to the end. “It is my task” he tells us, “to expose the global threat, whatever the political cost.”
Well you can’t say fairer than that now can you. At least now, whatever his intentions were assumed to be, we know that Blair is a fanatic (“fervent”) individual driven by an “existential” desire to fight “evil” and to utilise whatever methods, even evil ones, and at whatever the cost.
If you weren’t scared before, you should damn well be so now.