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June 20, 2007

A New Job for Tony?
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

I'd been treating reports in British newspapers that Tony Blair would become a "US envoy to the Middle East" with great skepticism -- but here's the BBC getting a nameless White House official on record that discussions have been had with President Bush about making Blair a Middle East envoy on behalf of the Quartet (US, EU, UN, Russia)

My first reaction was, quite frankly, why on earth would anyone want that job right now?

My second thought is, ok, give the man credit for not choosing to walk away from the current mess that he had some hand in creating.

And then I thought about the Stephen Frears movie The Queen, which we finally got around to watching two weeks ago.  The film -- against the backdrop of the public outcry after Princess Diana's death ten years ago -- depicts Tony Blair at his most popular, most appealing, most dynamic.  He has just come into office determined to change Britain to the core -- and he finds himself such a supporter of the monarchy that he helps save Elizabeth II from herself.  At the film's end, the writers give Helen Mirren's Queen some wonderfully sharp lines suggesting that Blair has only helped her because he knows, or senses, how quickly public opinion can turn, and that he can one day falling that far foul of public opinion himself.  I wondered as I watched it -- the film is about a year old -- whether the writer hadn't been able to restrain himself from inserting a very small comment on how Blair's determination to do Iraq with Bush no matter what had proven his undoing.  I've never seen this remarked on in the commentary around the movie (which is terrific, and not just because it gives props to the speechwriters), but I find it quite haunting.


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I don't get the point, Heather. Is the Queen now going to save Blair from himself? Or is Bush? I don't think so. In other words, why choose an envoy who has a vested interest?
Of course if you look at the situation with a cynic's eyes, as I do, and realize that the goal of Bush/Blair is unending conflict in the Middle East, so as to divide and disrupt Islamics and encourage a continuing US military presence, then the move would take on a whole new meaning.

One would imagine that another Brit, Gertrude Bell, played a larger role in making the Middle East the mess that it is.

But it's not good cricket to pick on dead British well-meaning do-gooders as troublesome, so I guess we see the curiously nasty sendoff to a man who, for all his faults, managed to find a third way for Labour and transgressed most by hoping to bring democracy to a land that never experienced it.

If that's callow and deserving of the rhetorical slap, one wonders what barb Heather shall ever toss at Bill Clinton (Kosovo, Bosnia).

I guess that former ally of Bill's at least had the good head to back a winning war that really didn't involve US strategic interests instead of the losing war that did.





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