Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Speaking up for Blair

As speculation continues over Blair's departure date, the one group of people who continue to speak up for him are conservative commentators. Gerard Baker has an article in the Weekly Standard. Entitled "Britain's first and last 'New Labour' Prime Minister", the article states that whatever you think of Blair's domestic politics, the thing he will be most remembered for is his ucompromising stand on Iraq and Islamism. Here is an excerpt of of Blair's recent speech in Australia:
"People look back on the three years since the Iraq conflict; they point to the precarious nature of Iraq today and to those who have died--mainly in terrorist acts--and they say: How can it have been worth it? But there is a different question to ask: Why is it so important to the forces of reaction and violence to halt Iraq in its democratic tracks and tip it into sectarian war? Why do foreign terrorists from al Qaeda and its associates go across theborder to kill and maim? Why does Syria not take stronger action to prevent them? Why does Iran meddle so furiously in the stability of Iraq?"

And in explaining the bigger threat from Islamism, he went on to say:

"Fundamentally, for this ideology, we are the enemy. . . . "We" is not the West. "We" are as much Muslim as Christian or Jew or Hindu. "We" are those who believe in religious tolerance, openness to others, to democracy, liberty, and human rights administered by secular courts. This is not a clash between civilizations. It is a clash about civilization".

Blair may have got a lot of things wrong, but when it came to Islamism, Blair articulated more than any other Western leader the threat that we face. Unlike most of his party (and some Tories) who see Bush as the main threat to the Western world, he was prepared to call a spade a spade.

Round up on the Israeli election

I've been so busy with work, I never had a chance to comment on the Israeli election. I'm delighted that Kadima got elected, although their vote was not as high as I hoped. Maybe Israel can finally break out of it's stranglehold by the settler movement. We shall see...

One thing the Israeli elections haven't changed is Hamas's attitude, no surprises there.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The not so "special" relationship

Interesting article in the by Niall Ferguson on Britain's so called "special relationship" with America. There might have been a special relationship during the Reagan - Thatcher years but that was as much to do with an idealogical meeting of minds between the Tories and the Republicans during the 1980s. Blair and Bush may be soulmates, but apart from that, Britain and America have drifted further and further apart both idealogically and socially.

The reality is that America has a special relationship with a number of countries. In the war on terror, America is keen for a special relationship with Pakistan. In order to counter the growing dominance of China, America is seeking a special relationship with India. And the US has always had a special relationship with Israel.

For years the special relationship has deluded British officials into thinking that they carry some kind of powerful influence on the world stage. For example, after the UK participated in the invasion of Iraq, there was an expectation that President Bush would return the favour by promoting the Middle East road map. But when it comes to foreign policy, the Bush administration are answerable to the US electorate, not to Tony Blair. It seems British officials haven't yet woken up to that.

Ross on Wye

Here are some photos of my recent trip to Goodrich near Ross on Wye, Herefordshire