AerospaceFan
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How Will History Judge Blair?

Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:13 pm

When you ask the typical American about Tony Blair, you'd probably get a favorable response. And that favorable response is probably because Blair has been one of America's best friends within a country that has consistently been one of America's best allies. With rare exceptions.

But I think it's still an open question as to what historians will deem Blair's major contribution to history. Would it be that he opened up the EU to free-market ideas? But he's currently a bit weak to really do that, isn't he? And his stint at the EU Presidency will soon be over. How about opening up the U.K. to the ideas of "new" Labor? But there are rumblings of discontent on the left still. Is the answer that that he allegedly served as Bush's "lapdog" in connection with the Iraq War? Hopefully not! What a legacy that would be.

So, what will history say about Tony Blair? Can we even speculate?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

[Edited 2006-01-06 07:26:27]
What's fair is fair.
 
Klaus
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:37 pm

Blair's role within the EU was not exactly spectacular - maybe except the spectacularly bad performance during the recent presidency, which could barely be saved from going down in flames at the very last moment. The lack of actual cooperation meant that he had not a lot of actual influence on the direction of the EU.

His position relative to the EU is more accurately describes as "nothing but free trade" - basically a demolition of most of the EU with merely a purely economical skeleton remaining. That was never what it was about and I sincerely hope it will never degenerate to that.


Blair certainly had a major (ahem) impact on domestic british affairs, but externally his record will not necessarily be viewed with much applause.

Without his uncritical complicity the Iraq invasion would probably not have gone through. Bush would probably not have risked it completely alone (yeah, I know, "don't forget Poland!", but they would probably have abstained in that case as well and be happy with that by now).


All in all history may well attest to him that he meant well in several respects, but his lack of vision and long-term foresight turned his ambitions into a string of disappointments or full-blown fiascos.
 
gkirk
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:50 pm

Up until 2002/2003 I think he was doing a very good job, after that however, he appears to be feeling the pressure and as such, hasn't been able to do the job to the best of his abilities.
He's a lapdog of both George Bush and the corrupt EU organisation.
A shame really...
When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
 
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nighthawk
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:57 pm

all blair will be remembered for is being Bush's puppet, and dragging us into a war noone wanted.
 
saintsman
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:59 pm

I'm sure his history will be very impressive.....

After the spin doctors have been to work.  Yeah sure
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:13 pm

Thank you for all the comments.

I, too, am disappointed with Blair because I think his potential has been wasted. I remember the year he gave his eulogy for Diana. He seemed so dynamic and effective then.

Britain does have a good economy, and I think that we can thank Blair for that. But at what cost? Is the National Health Service up to the standards it sets for itself? Up to European standards? Mind you, I don't necessarily support nationalized health insurance my own country (although I haven't made up my mind about the issue), but it seems to me that if Britons want such a system, they should be entitled to receive one that actually works well.

What about Britain's defense posture? It seems to me that the U.K. is no longer as potent, having retired much of its nuclear deterrent. On the other hand, it will soon have rather large aircraft carriers, thanks to the efforts of Blair, his lieutenants, and Thales -- not to mention Parliament.

It seems to me Blair's legacy won't be seen by his supporters to be anything as unalloyed as Thatcher's by hers.

The mood of the British people is best expressed by the British, of course, but I sense a bit of tiredness with the current Prime Minister. Of course, the question is whether his successor would be much better. And across the aisle, the Charles Kennedy debacle suggests that the Liberal Democrats could be in trouble. But what of the Conservatives?

So many questions.

Again, great comments. Thank you again.

[Edited 2006-01-06 15:30:14]
What's fair is fair.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:24 pm


regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
Banco
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 3:44 am

Once again the idea of Blair as Bush's puppet rears its head.

It's crap. It really is. For one thing, when have the British ever been reluctant to go to war? Rightly or wrongly, there is a lack of squeamishness about the issue. The next thing, and one often overlooked, is that the public supported Britain going to war. As in the US, that support has fallen off as events have unfolded.

On to the issue of Blair himself. Blair did not do anything because Bush told him to. That's utterly ridiculous. In many ways, Blair is much more pro-intervention than Bush. Anyone who remembers the Kosovo campaign will know that it was Blair who wanted a ground invasion. Told by Clinton that if that's what he wanted, he should do it himself, Blair responded by offering 50,000 British troops. Blair believes in this. Blair would quite like to invade Zimbabwe and topple Mugabe.

Now, many people will vehemently disagree with Blair's philosophy, but for God's sake, get it right. Calling him a poodle is an easy way to be derogatory, but it's just plain wrong.

As for his position on the EU, it is one of the great contradictions - and a real problem for Blair himself - that whilst he is viewed as obstructive in the rest of Europe (Klaus' post above is an excellent summary of that viewpoint) he is lambasted in the UK for giving far too much away. In utter contrast to what Klaus writes, Blair is accused here of giving in to a European superstate.

He really can't win with this one. He can please his domestic audience, or the rest of the EU. He's trying to both, and all that happens is that both sides slam him for it. For example, you have Klaus' post and then:

Quoting Gkirk (Reply 2):
He's a lapdog of [....] the corrupt EU organisation.

.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 1):
Without his uncritical complicity the Iraq invasion would probably not have gone through.

See, this is the point. It really wasn't a case of Bush saying we want to do this and Blair going along with it. Several US officials have commented that no persuasion was needed and that Blair was more up for it than they were.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
How about opening up the U.K. to the ideas of "new" Labor? But there are rumblings of discontent on the left still.

The left of the Labour Party have always disliked Blair. It isn't a new thing. But equally, the left of the Labour Party have never really formed the mainstream of British political debate. Blair getting duffed up by the left will be manna from heaven for the Conservatives. And this is the point about "New" Labour. All they did was slap on the centrist ideas that tend to appeal to the electorate.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 5):
Is the National Health Service up to the standards it sets for itself? Up to European standards?

It's been improving quite quickly. But then so it should with such a huge influx of cash. I believe I remember reading (I'm not sure on this, someone may want to correct me) that studies were suggesting it was now up to the European average, but the NHS is like trying to turn a supertanker. It'll take years - and of course the question of waste goes on. But the NHS has become a sacred cow in th UK political spectrum. High spending on it is likely to continue.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 5):
What about Britain's defense posture?

Defence is always an interesting subject here. It almost always seems that defence spending is a low priority for the electorate right up to the point where they go into action and then the government are lambasted for penny pinching. Labour's longer term defence policy has actually been a reasonably good one, encompassing a proper strategic review for future requirements, rather than the usual one which means "cuts". But whilst the planned position of a decade hence (including the carriers) is reasonably logical, how you get there is arguably not, involving not upgrading or replacing in tehe interim - effectively trying to skip a generation.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 5):
It seems to me Blair's legacy won't be seen by his supporters to be anything as unalloyed as Thatcher's by hers.

Thatcher, rather like Clinton and Gorbachev, is something of a prophet not honoured in her own land. I'd be careful not to confuse the generally positive view of her in the US with the one in the UK. Thatcher was incredibly divisive, and as many hate her with a passion as love her.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 5):
but I sense a bit of tiredness with the current Prime Minister.

Britons always get tired with their Prime Ministers eventually. Blair is actually doing reasonably well in terms of public support considering. Nevertheless, you're perception is entirely correct.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 5):
But what of the Conservatives?

An interesting question. No-one really knows. After spending years electing leaders who appealed to Conservatives, rather than the country itself, they've taken something of a punt on Cameron. We'll have to wait and see how he performs, but he does have that certain appeal that may work for them. Perhaps the best ally for the Tories is that memories are starting to fade of the last Conservative government.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
jasepl
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:06 am

Quoting Banco (Reply 7):
Once again the idea of Blair as Bush's puppet rears its head.

It's crap. It really is. For one thing, when have the British ever been reluctant to go to war? Rightly or wrongly, there is a lack of squeamishness about the issue. The next thing, and one often overlooked, is that the public supported Britain going to war. As in the US, that support has fallen off as events have unfolded.

It may be crap Banco, but that's how a lot of the world sees it.

Blair didn't do himself any favours in the opinion game either by constantly scrambling off to Washington before and during Iraq. I even started a thread on it! Sure, the British people may have supported Blair's decision to go to war, but you can't deny it was Bush's war and Blair thought it a good idea to join in.

Bush was the one who needed the support. Why then was Blair the one who was always in Washington? I don't think Bush bothered making the effort to turn up in London even once (except for the State Visit, which doesn't count).

That's one of the main reasons, for me at least, that Blair will ever ben seen as a lapdog.
 
GDB
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 6:30 am

Banco has summed it up well enough.

One thing to add, all the talk about Cameron, his seeming determination to radically change the Tories (if they let him), to make them electable.
Cameron's rapid rise is totally the result of Blair.
Like it or not, though there is little radical to point to (which people expect from large majority governments), he's HAS transformed British politics.

Talk of getting health and education funding up to general EU levels was verboten 20, 15, even 10 years ago, the Tories would never do it.
Labour would not get in to do it, due to the fear of massive tax hikes and economic failure.

Not like that now is it? It's the Tories who have been forced to start to change to more like Blair's position, if they want to get in power again.
I bet Blair is secretly delighted and in a way, wishes Cameron well, Labour have to lose one day, but any ex PM wants his legacy kept pretty intact.
Which the Tories might well do.
If they do a Bush in 2000, and go much more right wing once in power, they'll soon be out of office again.

This is not new, after Atlee's 1945-51 government, the Tories only got in by promising to largely keep intact what Labour had done.
It was Labour's exhaustion (most ministers had also served in Churchill's wartime coalition too), that did for them.
The Tories kept their promises, actually often extending on the 1945 'contract'.

Blair had to adapt to 15 years of Thatcher, his 'victory' was when Arthur Scargill walked out of a conference in disgust.
I would suggest that Cameron would like to see Norman Tebbit do the same.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:02 am

Banco and GDB, bravo for your insightful commentary. Your answers are some of the best reasons to visit these kinds of threads and provide information as both the factual background and current trends relating to the Prime Minister and his place in history.

Britain's relationship with the United States, it seems to me, is not easily describable. While American foreign policy makers may well consider Britain to be our best friend (particularly now that Canada's popular opinion of us has gone rather prickly), rivaled in intimacy only by Australia and Japan, Britons may not consider America to be quite as close as that, and from what I've seen, many believe that the U.S. is abusing its leadership role in the Middle East. There are probably a significant number of "EUrocrats" or "EUrophiles" in Britain, if I'm reading it right, which in this connection (and particularly before Merck's ascension, although Merck seems remarkably weak for a new Chancellor, due to the compromises to which she was forced to assume power) would appear to attract Britain's foreign policy toward a Franco-German axis. And, the political spectrum in Britain is generally displaced to the left relative to America's (or, equally, one could say that America's is displaced to the right), and so there will perforce be a significant segment of the British population that will view America as corporatist at best, and ruthlessly capitalistic at worst. Some on the extreme left no doubt see the U.S. as "imperialist", "neocolonialist", or whatever term it's fashionable to use these days to describe our often activist role in the world.

From what I've read, others in Britain see America's actions as necessary for many of the same reasons that American conservatives do. An example of the latter, I think, would be Tony Blair. Blair has managed to hold and promote this particular worldview, which coincides with that of the Bush Administration, for years. But he's losing, or has even lost, his touch, and I think he realizes that he's seen as something of a "lame duck" -- so much so that I cannot remember the last time Blair said something supportive of American policy.

What I'd still like to know is what the Conservatives have to offer. I have no idea whether they have a good chance of winning the next general election, but I don't see any kind of charismatic leadership on their part that would suggest that they will, and it seems to me that Britain is edging, if in any direction, leftward.

So perhaps the legacy of Mr. Blair will be determined by a subsequent Labor government that deals with the initiatives for which he is responsible. Blair has suffered a setback in one of his important homeland security laws, but I suspect there is still much more that he's implemented over the years that wil continue to have an effect on Britain for a long time to come.

Only time will tell.

[Edited 2006-01-06 23:07:58]
What's fair is fair.
 
AsstChiefMark
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:50 am

As a man.....who for.....no particular reason......speaks...in.......chopped sentences.

Mark
Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Red tail...Damned MSP...Red tail...Red tail
 
Klaus
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:32 am

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 11):
As a man.....who for.....no particular reason......speaks...in.......chopped sentences.

You know, the satellite connection of his remote control is a bit choppy at times...!  mischievous 
 
GDB
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:42 am

Aerospacefan, Don't expect Gordon Brown, Blair's almost certain successor, maybe late this year, more probably next, to greatly change foreign policy, in fact he's a bit more Eurosceptic than Blair.
Brown is a fan of the US, but really the East Coast, (where he spends a lot of time, including for leisure), Liberal US.
But he'll be pragmatic, like Blair, and work with whoever is in the White House.

Funnily enough, the worst post war relationship between a POTUS and PM, was LBJ and Wilson, who were also probably the closest politically, LBJ's 'Great Society' being close to centrist/right wing 'Old Labour', which Wilson was.

Not only due to Wilson's refusal to send British troops to Vietnam, though Wilson supported the US diplomatic, so not like France and Germany in 2003, it was as much about lack of personal chemistry.
Wilson much preferred Nixon.

As for the Tories, for GOP fans who, if they thought about UK politics at all, would prefer the Conservatives, with fond memories of Thatcher too, here is a warning.
As usual, MP's from all UK main parties were invited to the US Embassy in London, for the 2004 election night party.
Some Tory MP's certainly from the wing supporting Cameron now, the so-called 'Notting Hill Set', were wearing John Kerry badges.

Former Tory leader, Michael Howard, a right winger, used Iraq as a stick to beat Blair, to the annoyance of Bush, he was personer non gratia at the White House as a result.
Even nuclear disarmament supporter, left winger Neil Kinnock, when the Labour opposition leader, was allowed in during Reagan's time.

Cameron plans it seems to radically alter most aspects of Tory policy, in effect going back to the pre Thatcher, much less ideological 'One Nation' Conservatism.
This will have effects on foreign policy most likely, Howard had little credibility on Iraq, having supported the war until mid/late 2004.
Cameron won't have that baggage, he could well be the next PM from 2009/10, if his party allows him a free hand and the polls keep improving.
 
whitehatter
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:56 am

Quoting Jasepl (Reply 8):

Bush was the one who needed the support. Why then was Blair the one who was always in Washington? I don't think Bush bothered making the effort to turn up in London even once (except for the State Visit, which doesn't count).

two different political structures.

If Bush wants to come to London, he has to bring a thousand flunkies and the big birds out of Andrews. Blair can just get on to a BA flight or charter an aircraft.

When Blair leaves Britain, his deputy is in charge. Bush is constantly in charge no matter where he is.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 1):
Without his uncritical complicity the Iraq invasion would probably not have gone through. Bush would probably not have risked it completely alone (yeah, I know, "don't forget Poland!", but they would probably have abstained in that case as well and be happy with that by now).

Bush would have continued without Britain, and indeed offered to do just that should Blair not have been able to organise British support at the time of the invasion. The Bush offer is well documented, and allowed for Britain to join up later if capable. As things unfolded the British were there at the start.

Quoting GDB (Reply 13):

Former Tory leader, Michael Howard, a right winger, used Iraq as a stick to beat Blair, to the annoyance of Bush, he was personer non gratia at the White House as a result.

The infamous Karl Rove telephone conversation is also well documented, telling Howard not to come to Washington as there was no way he would get to see Bush.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 10):
What I'd still like to know is what the Conservatives have to offer. I have no idea whether they have a good chance of winning the next general election, but I don't see any kind of charismatic leadership on their part that would suggest that they will, and it seems to me that Britain is edging, if in any direction, leftward.

Cameron is all style and no substance. I for one am waiting for the ageing, rabid right wing of the Tory Party to start their manoeuvres to destroy any leftward or liberal move in policy that he tries to accomplish.

You can take it to the poodle parlour and make it pretty, but the Tories are still the same old mangy junk yard mongrel underneath. And that typical hard right wing Colonel will not be happy to see his beloved Party go all soft. Expect ructions and eruptions.
Lead me not into temptation, I can find my own way there...
 
kiwiinoz
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:59 am

Fiddling with his cufflinks at the start of a press conference.

He does it EVERY time!!
 
Klaus
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:12 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 10):
There are probably a significant number of "EUrocrats" or "EUrophiles" in Britain, if I'm reading it right, which in this connection (and particularly before Merck's ascension, although Merck seems remarkably weak for a new Chancellor, due to the compromises to which she was forced to assume power) would appear to attract Britain's foreign policy toward a Franco-German axis.

Several mistakes:

a) Imagining "axes" of various kinds is a favourite pastime of some journalists, but for the most part, it is complete nonsense. Europe has always worked by influence through participation, and Britain's lack of influence in Europe was and is to a large degree due to the lack of interest from the islands. It is not enough to just demand that the rest of Europe had to simply copy the respective british approach of the time.

b) I presume you're talking about Angela Merkel, the new german chancellor.

c) Merkel is actually not nearly as "weak" as you're assuming; SPD and CDU are not remotely comparable to the US Democrats and Republicans. And it is not just a matter of left or right. Even a highly unlikely CDU/CSU government with Merkel and without any coalition partner (their favourite would have been the FDP) would most certainly not have turned around and embraced Bush's foreign policies with open arms - that would have been political suicide and would not even fit her own agenda. There would and will most probably be a further approach in style, but not in substance. Make no mistake about that. A major change for the better will happen at the earliest when Bush will have left office one way or another - regardless whether the chancellor's name is Merkel or Schröder.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 10):
Some on the extreme left no doubt see the U.S. as "imperialist", "neocolonialist", or whatever term it's fashionable to use these days to describe our often activist role in the world.

Don't kid yourself. Harsh criticism is coming from the complete political spectrum over here, to varying degrees. The Bush foreign policy is regarded as a full-range failure with lots of scorched earth in its wake, regardless of differing opinions about which parts have been blackened the most. Even the view on the rare positive side aspects (such as Saddam's ouster) is often rather cynical.
 
Klaus
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:03 am

Quoting WhiteHatter (Reply 14):
Bush would have continued without Britain, and indeed offered to do just that should Blair not have been able to organise British support at the time of the invasion. The Bush offer is well documented, and allowed for Britain to join up later if capable. As things unfolded the British were there at the start.

It is unlikely if Bush would have had enough support at home to go ahead if it hadn't been for Blair's support. In the face of overwhelming worldwide opposition to the war Blair was an essential element of assuring the US population that there was any significant support at all.

Blair had claimed he wanted to go the "proper" way through the UN - in the end he had turned out to have been the enabler of Bush steamrolling the UN. Ultimately there was no british influence on the actual conduct of the invasion beyond mere details. Blair was just helplessly dragged along, desperately and unsuccessfully trying to save some face.
 
pbottenb
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:29 am

Quoting WhiteHatter (Reply 14):
As things unfolded the British were there at the start.

And we are gratefull for the support! I spent a good portion of the following weeks after 9/11 and after the start of the war thanking the many Brit xpats that I work with for the support. Not all the Brits I know supported the war, but they all accepted the thanks....It may not mean much, but the support is - and will be- remembered
 
pbottenb
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:37 am

Quoting Klaus (Reply 16):
Don't kid yourself. Harsh criticism is coming from the complete political spectrum over here, to varying degrees. The Bush foreign policy is regarded as a full-range failure with lots of scorched earth in its wake, regardless of differing opinions about which parts have been blackened the most. Even the view on the rare positive side aspects (such as Saddam's ouster) is often rather cynical.

I assume that when you say "over here" you mean Germany, and to some extent other parts of Europe. Rest assured that your nations's lack of support will also be remembered....for a long time.....

I get the sense that over here, regardless of political affilitiation (or view of the Iraq war), a large and growing portion of the American populace is becoming tired of the Eurocentric cynicism that is expressed in your post..to the point of considering the relationship between many Euro countries (France, Germany, Spain, etc...) and the US being as relevant as the relationship that the US has with with say....Cuba. This feeling has been brewing since the Reagan years, was highlited during the Kosovo conflict, and was finalized after 9/11 and Iraq.
 
Klaus
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:41 am

Quoting Pbottenb (Reply 18):
And we are gratefull for the support! I spent a good portion of the following weeks after 9/11 and after the start of the war thanking the many Brit xpats that I work with for the support. Not all the Brits I know supported the war, but they all accepted the thanks....It may not mean much, but the support is - and will be- remembered

After 9-11 everybody was at your side - the "evil" french and germans included; French and german troops are in Afghanistan to this very day. Your memory is obviously rather cloudy.

Attacking Iraq without being provoked or having a plausible cause was a different matter - which destroyed that worldwide support.

Different things, but it seems you have forgotten that Afghanistan and Iraq were two fundamentally different affairs.

People around the world still love America, but your current government is overshadowing it like a black toxic cloud.
 
kiwiinoz
Posts: 1999
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:50 am

I think the direction this thread is taking is a pretty clear indication of how he will be judged, (apart from the cufflinks and choppy sentences). As expected, the topic has migrated to American, rather than British policy.

Sounds like the puppet thing is not far off the mark
 
Gary2880
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:51 am

The person who was in charge when Britain received its first suicide bombings. im so glad our country is so popular.
Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel :- Samuel Johnson
 
pbottenb
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 11:33 am

Quoting Klaus (Reply 20):
Your memory is obviously rather cloudy.

Not really, I know all of these things - and it was good while it lasted, but IMHO, we are way beyond all of that now. Between MP's in Canada trampling GW Bush dolls and anti-War protests in Europe where American flags are burned regularly, between accusations of secret CIA prisons with no evidence and hundreds of other similar irritants, it is clear that the cozy relationships of the past are coming to an end. Esta Vida en el Ciudad Grande....

It seems to me that over the last few years the surest way for a French, Spanish, German, (or Canadian for that matter) politician to get elected is to run an anti-American campaign focused on Pres. Bush. while many in these countries may not think that we are capable of understanding what is happening, we are.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 20):
People around the world still love America,

That is nice, and we hope it continues, but here is something to think about. the next time that Russia shuts down the gas into Ukraine and cuts off YOUR supply in the EU, you are going to wish that your politicians hadnt decided to flush your relationship with the US down the toilet.


Heres hoping for a more positive relationship in the future...

PB
 
GDB
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 11:50 am

Can anyone, honestly, really say for sure that those 4, (almost 8) nutcases would not have done what they did if we had not been in Iraq?
You cannot, no matter how many rambling, irrational, hate filled videos they made.

Go ahead and believe a bunch of indiscriminate mass murders, wedded to a very extreme cult within a religion.
You could have been on that bus, or on those trains, proud in your 'Stop The War' t-shirt, Respect and/or CND and/or 'Free Palestine' badges.
Even if the bombers had noticed, they'd still have detonated.

Why not blame Churchill for the Blitz?
Why not blame Wilson for the IRA terror campaign, Wilson being sympathetic to the Ulster Catholics and with a loathing for the likes of Paisley.

Blair did overestimate his powers of persuasion with Bush, no doubt he would have preferred Gore as President.
However, the key to many US Presidents, certainly Bush, is who has access to him the most.

In 2002/3, it was Rice and Rumsfeld, had it been Powell it might have been very different, at least diplomatically.
But Powell, like the State Department as a whole in Bush's first term, did not have anything like their usual influence.

But, what G8 leader has pushed and pushed for a better deal for the 3rd world, on trade, on EU/US farm subsidies, on aid?
Blair. None of the others, at least with nowhere near the passion.
And it's not a new thing with Blair, it's been policy since 1997, something that Blair's left wing critics choose to ignore.

Only limited success true, but far beyond what any UK government before, even the sainted 'Old Labour' ones even attemped, (who in foreign policy generally, didn't differ from Blair anything like as much as his critics say).

So if he, despite his best efforts, could not get all he wanted on the 3rd world, due to partly Bush's ideology, Chiracs's agricultural protectionist imperatives.
How is that different to other areas of international policy?

The world is not as simple as the likes of Respect like to make out.
 
Klaus
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:06 pm

Quoting Pbottenb (Reply 23):
Not really, I know all of these things

You were obviously confusing the situation post-9-11 - where you falsely claimed only Britain was at your side - and Iraq, where that pretty much was the case.

Quoting Pbottenb (Reply 23):
and anti-War protests in Europe where American flags are burned regularly

Nonsense.

Quoting Pbottenb (Reply 23):
between accusations of secret CIA prisons with no evidence

Your own vice president pushed for the legalization of torture, your head of CIA talked about "innovative interrogation methods", Abu Ghraib is very much public (as are many other similar cases), even your own government doesn't deny the extensive rendition system which simply wouldn't serve any purpose whatsoever if not to transport suspects to other countries to have them tortured there, there are multiple accounts of torture by agents of the US, and right here on a.net you can find multiple photographs of the planes very probably used for those transports.

The evidence is quite compelling - and details are being filled in progressively.

Quoting Pbottenb (Reply 23):
while many in these countries may not think that we are capable of understanding what is happening, we are.

No, apparently you're not.

Blair coddled you when you were wrong. Real friends will tell you to your face when you are making a mistake, even if that takes a lot more guts.

So what do you want? Real friends or servants?

Quoting Pbottenb (Reply 23):
Heres hoping for a more positive relationship in the future...

I sincerely hope that you will never be surrounded exclusively by yes-men who will never doubt any of your "great ideas".
 
GDB
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:34 pm

I actually agree that the UK would have been a better friend to the US had they, in private, not grandstanding like a Chancellor in serious domestic political trouble, cast much stronger doubts about Iraq.

But with an administration like Bush's, what would have been the result had we just said, 'no'.
Not a reluctant acceptance, but resentful, even more unilateral policies.
The fracture with Europe would have been worse still.
Just what OBL and co want.

British foreign policy is basically both pro Europe (just not a lumbering, increasingly uncompetitive, protectionist EU), but also close EU-US ties, which is seen as vital for both security and economics.

Don't fool yourselves, OBL and co see all the 'West' as the enemy, they don't discriminate, they didn't before Iraq, they won't now.
Sure they'll target based on what plays best amongst their base, that might stand a slight chance of altering policy.
The UK does not fool itself like Chirac and much of the French political class increasingly does.

Blair wanted Saddam gone, he wanted it in 1997, thought the strikes in 1998 after UN expulsion, was a missed chance.
He wanted quicker and more extensive action in Kosovo, was prepared to provide the ground muscle, as planned if need be in operation 'Flavius'.

Blair is a Liberal interventionist, he was before Sept 11th.

Blair's failure, in his terms, was not to ask much harder questions about post war planning, this is partly because he and Jack Straw, were fully engaged trying to get a UN framework for getting rid of Saddam.
Bush was inflexible, but so were Chirac and Schroeder.

Blair has made his concerns known to Bush about the post war planning, even in US tactics in Iraq.
Is he taken notice of?
Hard to say, sometimes probably, but even if rarely, that is still a whole lot more than both the former German Chancellor and French President was/is.
 
pbottenb
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:39 pm

Klaus - I do so much enjoy these discussions that we have...I must go now, but I will be back to discuss some more...until then, one point for you:

Quoting Klaus (Reply 25):
and anti-War protests in Europe where American flags are burned regularly

Nonsense.

it seems that I cant find any pictures of Europeans burning US flags, so on this point I concede to you.......


PB
 
Klaus
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:41 pm

Good form. Sleep well!
 
Banco
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:00 pm

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 10):
Britons may not consider America to be quite as close as that, and from what I've seen, many believe that the U.S. is abusing its leadership role in the Middle East. There are probably a significant number of "EUrocrats" or "EUrophiles" in Britain, if I'm reading it right, which in this connection (and particularly before Merck's ascension, although Merck seems remarkably weak for a new Chancellor, due to the compromises to which she was forced to assume power) would appear to attract Britain's foreign policy toward a Franco-German axis. And, the political spectrum in Britain is generally displaced to the left relative to America's (or, equally, one could say that America's is displaced to the right), and so there will perforce be a significant segment of the British population that will view America as corporatist at best, and ruthlessly capitalistic at worst. Some on the extreme left no doubt see the U.S. as "imperialist", "neocolonialist", or whatever term it's fashionable to use these days to describe our often activist role in the world.

I don't know about that.

There certainly is a degree of scepticism and even some hostility towards the US in some quarters here, but overall, if you were to force the British people to choose between the US and Europe, most would choose the US. I'm not sure that's even that much to do with foreign policy, I suspect it has rather more to do with cultural similarities. Obviously there are significant differences between the US and the UK, but the common tie of language and history is an extremely strong one, and on the cultural level, despite the differences, the British feel much more of a kinship with the Americans than they do the rest of Europe.

Why this might be is in the realms of speculation, but it may be to do with the historical baggage that does permeate any society. Any nation is a product of their history, and the fact that the British have spent most of their history fighting against the European nations, and (usually) alongside the Americans does have a certain resonance.

Whilst the US is on the receiving end of strong criticism at times here, it's no co-incidence, I feel, that it is usually British philosophers and politicians who come out with comments like "if there has to be just one superpower, thank God it's the Americans", and so on.

That doesn't mean the US is immune from a strong dislike about their policies, but I do think that America tends to get the benefit of the doubt here more than they do in most countries. If you take the axample of the Second World War, the US will get endless stick about arriving three years late and so forth, but I often feel the fact that the US arrived at all is never forgotten and is hard-wired into the belief systems of the British.

I'd be interested to hear what other Britons think about this, because I don't have any evidence for it, it's just a feeling.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
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yowza
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sat Jan 07, 2006 11:11 pm

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
When you ask the typical American about Tony Blair, you'd probably get a favorable response

Actually if you ask the typical American about Tony Blair they would say "Who?"

I went to the same school he attended in Edinburgh and he was not one of our favourite past students...

YOWza
 
GDB
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sun Jan 08, 2006 3:23 am

I think it is fairly clear that most American's, even those not interested/not informed about foreign affairs, know who Blair is.
They might only be able to name Churchill and Thatcher as well, but how many Britons can name more than Bush, Clinton and JFK?
About the same percentage I'd guess.

Most people here can relate with what historian Simon Sharma called 'Worldly America', but not with what he called 'Godly America'.
We know what states he is talking about, though it's a crude measure geographically, oversimplified in population terms, for instance, Bill Clinton was from part of 'Godly America', but politically he was more 'Wordly America'.

Bush is disliked much more here than usual Presidents, not only because of events, but due to his inarticulate speaking, his base with the religious Right, a group with no direct (thankfully) equivalent here.
He's part of 'Godly America', which most British find bizarre, alien, often funny, usually sinister and irrational.

Clinton on the other hand, very well liked.

Had McCain got the GOP nomination in 2000, he'd be seen much more favorably both in the UK and more generally in the West.
Articulate, someone who has certainly lived, I know many on here won't like this, but the general perception of Bush in the UK, is of someone barely capable of doing the job, there only due to family and business ties.

At least that's the impression that comes across, that the post War planning in Iraq has been a total screw up reinforces this, even with many not opposed to the actual war itself.
 
Banco
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Sun Jan 08, 2006 4:53 am

Quoting GDB (Reply 31):
He's part of 'Godly America', which most British find bizarre, alien, often funny, usually sinister and irrational.

Yes, that's certainly true. If any British PM tried to even say "God Bless Britain", he'd be ridiculed up and down the country. The demand that a PM is secular is extremely strong - witness Blair keeping his own faith very much under wraps because of the stick he'd get for it - and more to the point, any overt display of religious belief is viewed is peculiar and somewhat worrying by the vast majority.

Even to take the "God Bless America" example, a stock phrase used by every President, it generally makes the British cringe when they hear it. The current argument over Creationism/Intelligent Design vs Evolution is viewed with utter bafflement over here. It's not even remotely a debate. I think this is largely true of the rest of Europe too, but it may be even more difficult for the British to comprehend because they think they know the Americans rather better.

Quoting GDB (Reply 31):
know many on here won't like this, but the general perception of Bush in the UK, is of someone barely capable of doing the job, there only due to family and business ties.

Equally true. I think there's a genuine incomprehension as to how someone who comes over (whether he is or not) as somewhat dim could possibly have been elected to the most important political office in the world. It isn't the politics of the man, it's the man himself. The idea that someone like that could reach such high office here is totally out of the question.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:28 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 32):
Yes, that's certainly true. If any British PM tried to even say "God Bless Britain", he'd be ridiculed up and down the country

Most interesting, indeed!

Is this because in your country, there remains a mystical connection of sorts relating to the monarchy? After all, there is the anthem, "God Save the Queen".
What's fair is fair.
 
Banco
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:00 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 33):
Is this because in your country, there remains a mystical connection of sorts relating to the monarchy? After all, there is the anthem, "God Save the Queen".

No. It's because the country is extremely secular - not in terms of its structure, in terms of its people. Anyone overtly displaying religious attitudes is treated with utter scepticism, and not a little discomfort.

Frankly, people who go on about God all the time are viewed as weird. That's why the Church of England has managed to survive. It isn't really a religious movement at all, it stays in the background, doesn't interfere with anyone's life and no-one pays a blind bit of attention to it.

Dis-establishing the Church from State is one of those subjects that occasionally crops up, and the only people who are actually opposed to it tends to be all the other religions, who far from disliking Church and State tend to feel that there ought to be some spirituality in such a godless country, and since the C of E spends so much time looking after everyone else's interests they get better access than they could ever hope to any other way.

As for the monarchy, believe me, there ain't nothing in this place that gets treated with respect any more - not even them! Big grin

Perhaps the over-riding mindset of the British is "Come off it!". Any hint of piousness, whether religious or any other, gets met with ridicule.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
GDB
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:39 am

To add to Banco, it's been a very, very long time, probably not since the 19th Century at least, that anyone thought the British Monarch is here though god's will.

As for the Church Of England, many on the left saw them as 'the Tory party at prayer'.
(That's the pre Thatcher 'One Nation', patrician Conservatives).

While many on the right see the C of E as a bunch of woolly lefties.
Actually this idea has more currency these days, superficial, biased and unfair as it is.

Since the Monarchy is now for almost purely ceremonial purposes, any allusion to god is taken the same way.

You also have to remember that PM's come through after long political careers, in the take no prisoners bear-pit of the House Of Commons, then ministerial careers.
You simply cannot imagine someone like Bush, who stumbles when speaking, never really grilled by attack dog journalists or politicians, lasting very long.

Labour's 18 years in opposition meant that most of the '97 government, including Blair, were denied hands on government experience.
Though as 'Her Majesties Loyal Opposition', the biggest party after the ruling one, all major ministries have opposition 'shadows', they have to scrutinize, criticize, suggest better government policies.

Blair made his name as Shadow Home Secretary in the early 1990's, with the Tories, at best, being in opposition until 2009/10, so 12-13 years out of government, more if they lose next time, they'll have the same challenge when they eventually do win.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: How Will History Judge Blair?

Thu Jan 12, 2006 4:34 am

All these comments depict a very secularized society in Britain, which I think is probably more typical of most Western nations as compared to the United States. That is, American focus on religion would appear to be atypical.

I think that in this respect, Europeans are slightly more future-oriented than Americans, and I think that this is evident in that their architecture, for one thing, relishes in ultramodern designs -- in museums, in national buildings of importance, and in major commercial complexes.

This is not to say there aren't great American architects -- there are plenty. But architecture is a most multinational profession, and there are many Germans, for example, who lead the field.

I use the example of architecture because, along with transportation devices (such as aircraft and high-speed trains), and the results of biological sciences and computer-related industries, the end product of architecture is among the most tangible results of a culture's orientation. By the same token, the achievements of American aerospace concerns, to say nothing of NASA, also indicate the very strong current of hopefulness and futurism that also exists in America, though concurrently with the religious tradition.

I can certainly see why many Britons take pride in being able to enjoy a secularist, futurist environment while living in a country surrounded by the fruits of past tradition.

Which is superior -- the American way, or the British lifestyle? Neither. Each has its own merits, and let it not be said that Americans are all religious nuts. That is far from the truth, as a cursory view of the postings here alone would confirm.

The fact is, given the above, it seems that the evaluation of Prime Minister Blair will be similarly secularist, and practical, besides.

[Edited 2006-01-11 20:38:58]
What's fair is fair.

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