Posts Tagged ‘UN’

Tony Blair on Syria. ITV interview by Mark Austin

April 6, 2012

All blog posts 2012 + Original posts list: from 2006 to 2012

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6th April 2012

ON SYRIA TONY BLAIR SAYS – well… not that much.

Tony Blair said "all options should remain open" in regard to Syria Photo: ITV News

If you’re a Tweep or a Facebook socialite concerned over Middle East issues you will have seen the regurgitated, all-knowing -  “Well? So what is the Middle East peace envoy doing about THIS?” 

The question is usually spat out with putrid venom, which is only to be expected given that it emanates from the depths of malodorous ignorance.  (See – Tony Blair is not the ‘envoy’ )

The mention of Mr Blair’s name raises such hackles in some quarters that he now falls into the category – damnedifhedoesdamnedifhedoesn’t.

Ever wary of being accused of “intervention” it is unusual for the former prime minister to say much overtly about domestic politics or even international politics. For that reason alone his video interview yesterday with ITV News’ Mark Austin is worthy of note.

TO INTERVENE OR NOT TO INTERVENE?

Harking back to his 1999 Chicago “Doctrine of The International Community” Mark Austin says – “So although Mr Blair is no longer in power, the question is whether as an enthusiastic interventionist, he would now support military action in Syria.”

Austin: “In an interview I put that question to him. He said that Assad cannot be allowed to continue killing people but fell short of calling for military intervention. Though he did say “all options should remain open”.

In my own humble opinion Tony Blair is actually saying nothing new here. Faced with such international threats he always says and always did say – “all options should remain open.”

But I do notice that he doesn’t mention the UN at all, at least in this section of the interview. Perhaps there is a reason for that.  (Kofi Annan:  “Syria violence must end by April 12th”)

And what of the positions on Syria of the present government and Her Majesty’s loyal opposition?

Well, we can look at HALF of the present government/coalition. The Liberal Democrats are insular and think nothing much about foreign policy except with hands-off or when it can be handled without cost. In other words, hardly EVER.

Last thing I recall on Syria from Nick Clegg was on 6th February, when he said he was “bitterly disappointed” over Russia’s & China’s UN veto.  Bless.

On 5th April the Foreign Secretary William Hague said -

“The Syrian authorities must prove to the international community and more importantly the Syrian people that they are sincere about ending the killing. If they do not, the Security Council must act to increase the pressure on the regime.”

A month earlier, on 6th March, Ed Miliband at PMQ -

Miliband: “.. that he will be making clear to [Putin] that action is necessary and that the Russian position is frankly unacceptable”.

“Action is necessary”? What kind of action, Mr Miliband?

Since then…  silence.

I am left wondering how the present leader of the Labour party would be reacting if he were in the prime minister’s seat right now.

The left, especially the New/Old I’m not Tony Blair left,  must find itself in a tricky situation. After all, not for them the interventionism which STOPS dynastic, tyrannical leaders killing their own.  Perish the thought. To be fair my assumption is that all of the parties would be supporting the stance of the present government: do nothing, make the right condemnatory noises  and hope that – THIS time – Kofi Annan & the UN can be effective.

NO “SECOND GUESSING”

The other notable words uttered by Mr Blair were, “I am not going to second-guess the guy who is taking them [these decisions] now”

Quite. But I am sure Mr Cameron and his cabinet will be pleased to know that if he were still in Number 10 Mr Blair would be doing as they are doing right now.

Leaving all options on the table.

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Mark Austin – Interview with Tony Blair on Syria

Full transcript of the interview

Mark Austin: If you were Prime Minister now, would you be looking to get involved in Syria? To intervene militarily in Syria?

Tony Blair: We have got to treat each case on its merits and with its own circumstances. So, I think Syria is again a different case but having said that we should always understand that if we are not active in this situation and we just allow it to develop in this case as Assad wants it to develop in Syria, we know what will happen.

Already thousands of people have died and many thousands more will die. So these are decisions, when you intervene, it’s always important to recognise if you intervene there will be consequences some of which are unpredictable and adverse and if you don’t the consequences actually are more predictable and probably very adverse also.

Mark Austin: You sound as if you think we should be looking to do more?

Tony Blair: I think the government is doing all it can do at this point in time but I think we should keep all the options open. In particular, what is very important is that we carry on sending a very strong message to Assad and the Syrian regime that this is not something where they can just roll over the people and then we are going to say ok lets just forget about it.

No, we will be there and be active in support of the Syrian people who want freedom and want the chance elect their government.

Mark Austin: Would you be finding it hard as a Prime Minister now not to intervene in Syria?

Tony Blair: All these situations are different and they are all tough so having been in this position, trying to take these decisions, I’m not going to second guess the guy who is taking them now.

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RELATED

Dr Matthew Partridge’s excellent review of  Peter Lee’s “Blair’s Just War: Iraq and the Illusion of Morality”. Excerpt:

‘Last year NATO intervened in Libya. There is also talk about doing so again in Syria. Many of the same people who marched against the Iraq war nine years ago are now tweeting demands that Obama, who also opposed it, send more advisors to Uganda. Does Tony Blair therefore deserve an apology?’

Dr Matthew Partridge has recently completed a PhD in Economic History at the London School of Economics. He is a freelance journalist who has written for The Guardian, Times Higher Education and the websites of Prospect and New Statesman.

Independent – “Assad metes out a day of brutal violence”

Guardian – “Syria Crisis: Live Updates”

Tony Blair, said “when you intervene, it’s always important to recognise if you intervene there will be consequences”.

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Kosovo celebrates – STOP. The Forgotten War – STOP. Press asleep – STOP.

February 18, 2012

Comment at end

Or –

18th February 2012

(Forgive the old telegram-style title.  If that doesn’t work I’ll try Morse Code)

I was about to write just ONE post on Kosovo. But in view of the press’s forgetfulness, and since it is easier to consume information in chunk-sized bites, I’ve decided to make it a few more.

PART 1

THE WAR THE WEST FORGOT TO REMEMBER

In case you missed it Kosovo marked the fourth anniversary of its declaration of independence yesterday, Friday.

Google “Kosovo anniversary 2012″.  Go on, I dare you.

I did. On page one of the links there is NO British media mention of this FOURTH anniversary of Kosovo’s independence.  Nor on page two. Not until the end of page three, that’s thirty links in,  Sky News mentions… oh hang on…  that’s SkyNews AUSTRALIA – Australia having a particularly neighbourly interest in Kosovo!

On the first ten search pages there is one mention from Canada, one from Norway, several from EU websites and even one from Russia’s RT. On NONE of those first ten Google search pages is there mention of ANY coverage on Kosovo Independence from a UK or USA website. Finally, on page eleven there is a BBC link … oh, hang on again … that’s from 2009!

And yet who are the political heroes of Kosovo?

One Tony Blair and one Bill Clinton. The former has had Kosovan children named after him; the latter a boulevard and a statue in his honour. I am not suggesting that Mr Clinton does not deserve both his honours, but we Brits would do well to recall it was Tony Blair who pushed President Clinton to take ground forces into Kosovo AND to win that war and defeat Milosevic without a United Nations Security Council resolution authorising it.

“Illegal” – I suppose some might suggest. As they might also suggest in Iraq.

SHAMEFUL SINS OF OMISSION

If ever we needed proof that today the west and its press has a particular dislike of heroes – I mean REAL heroes, not your average every day terrorist or even freedom-fighter sort – the lack of press coverage on Kosovo is it.  The media not only peddles in misinformation/disinformation gilded as ‘truth’ it also sins by omission, thus doing down our country, our democratically elected leaders and our commitment to freedom and humanitarian protection for all.  In other words we allow them to do ourselves down.

RELATED

Wikipedia – Kosovo War – Note how “negative is the tone here. Hardly surprising. Almost every Wikipedia entry on ANY war is written at Wikipedia with a ‘yes but, no but’ approach.

No-one pretends that all is hunky-dory in Kosovo or in Serbia but it is a darned sight better than it was.

More on the legality/illegality issues in next post – ‘Kosovo: The “Illegal War” The Press & Anti-Warriors Prefer To Forget’

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Comment samples follow from the Ban Blair-Baiting petition

1. I completely agree with everything that has been said on this website. As Prime Minister, Tony Blair worked tirelessly and selflessly in the interests of the people, and continues to do so today. He is primarily a humanitarian, and doesn’t deserve any of the vitriol that has been levelled at him. He was a great Prime Minister, is a thoroughly decent man; and should in my opinion, be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his outstanding work. – David Miliband (New Labour’s heir) for the next PM!

2. Best politician in Britain by a long way.

3. Fully support the petition. The criticism of Mr Blair has gone way beyond anything acceptable and seems to be carried out mainly by those who are looking to wash their hands of any involvement in supporting the Iraq war at the time. It is very easy to be ‘wise after the event’ and to make assumptions about how much Mr Blair knew or did not know before the war. In these people’s eyes, the former PM is guilty whatever the evidence.

4. An excellent petition this for a very undervalued PM. A PM who is not only the best in my lifetime but my parents lifetime too!

See full signature list


“Here’s your cards” – Quartet Envoys to Tony Blair

October 11, 2011

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11th October 2011

Knives are out as Blair battles in vain with Envoys to keep his job as Quartet Representative

Meeting, Brussels, Oct 9th. From left to right: Robert H. Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, Catherine Ashton, Helga Maria Schmid, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Sergei Vershinin, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Department of the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Tony Blair, Quartet Representative to the Middle East and David Hale, US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace

All right … I LIED!

Sometimes the only way to get the British press to sit up and take notice (you won’t find THIS reported widely) is to use their tactics. Also, it is satisfying to rub their noses in their own lies and prejudices.

From the picture above it hardly looks as though Tony Blair was expecting the heave-ho at this meeting on Sunday of the envoys. YES, by the way, Tony Blair is NOT the “envoy” but the representative of the Quartet and its envoys.

It’s be useful if we ALL understood that, for a start. If they want to sack anyone it should be the above individuals and NOT Mr Blair (see here)

French – here, English – here

Statement by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EC participates at the Quartet Envoys meeting, Catherine Ashton, following the Middle East Quartet Envoys Meeting
in Brussels, 9 October 2011 -

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Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Commission Vice-President, hosted a meeting of the Middle East Quartet envoys today in Brussels to follow up on the statement issued by the Quartet on 23 September in New York. After the meeting she issued the following statement:
“I was very pleased to host the Quartet envoys here in Brussels today. Following the successful meeting we had with my Quartet colleagues in New York, we discussed what to do next to encourage our Israeli and Palestinian partners to resume substantive negotiations as soon as possible. With that in mind we will be contacting the Parties to invite them
to meet in the coming days. I believe we have made good progress and will keep in close contact with Quartet partners and colleagues in the region with view to meet and move things forward. “

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Tony Blair’s mandate for the Quartet

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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

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The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
__________
Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.

Iraq war – Back to the Legality Argument

October 11, 2011

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11th October 2011

Back to the Legality Argument

Cross-posted from the information-packed Think Tank of my dear friend Julie

Since both Mehdi Hasan and Owen Jones claimed this week that the Iraq war was illegal and, according to the former, “every leading international lawyer” agrees with that verdict, I would like to briefly explain – again– why it was not.

First of all, people tend to forget that all arrangements between Saddam and the international community, after 1991, were based on a ceasefire, explicitly tied to Iraq’s disarmament. In particular Resolution 678, the legal basis for military action during the first Gulf war, and Resolution 687, which determined the conditions for the ceasefire between the UN and Iraq, were extremely important. Both were never revoked and authorisation to use force remained in being throughout the years and was also the legal basis for actions in 1993 and 1998.

So why not in 2003?

Furthermore, the legal advisor to the UN, Dr. Carl August Fleischhauer, confirmed that the original authority to use force in UNSCR 678 could revive, given the Security Council’s agreement that a violation of the ceasefire was in place.

This consideration was reflected in the drafting of UNSCR 1441. It not only confirmed that Saddam remained in “material breach” and gave him “a final opportunity to comply”, but also stated in operational paragraph 4, that a failure to comply unconditionally and immediately and fully with the inspectors was itself a further material breach. As a result, it authorised “serious consequences”, as indicated in operational paragraph 13. UNSCR 1441 was thus sufficient, in combination with previous UNSCRs, especially 678, but also 687, 660 and 1137, to lawfully take part in the invasion. Unanimously accepted, it was a legal refreshment.

Grossly exaggerated is also the significance of a second resolution, since it would have provided political legitimacy only. Not to forget that action was sanctioned by the British parliament, with 412 votes in favour to 149 opposed.

Last but not least, a consideration worth making, in regard to the matter of consistency in international law, is the following:

Sir Michael Wood, one of the Foreign Office lawyers against the war, confirmed in his written statement to Chilcot, that it would have made no legal difference if the wording of UNSCR 1441 had been “all necessary measures” (as in case of the recent Libya resolution – not unanimously accepted) instead of “all necessary means” (as in case of the 2003 Iraq resolution – unanimously accepted).

Given that, was Libya illegal, too?

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Links to above mentioned UNSC resolutions:

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Julie’s links -

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  • Julie on Facebook

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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

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The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
__________
Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.

BREAKING: Ban ki-moon, H Clinton, Ashton & Lavrov forced to stand down (Quartet)

October 3, 2011

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3rd October 2011

[*See note at end]

In a move that has shocked the international community all four representatives of the international Quartet working for peace between Israel and the Palestinians agreed unanimously to stand down from their decision-making positions as regards the Middle East’s most intractable problem.  It is believed to be connected with reported opinion of some on the Palestinian side that they consider Tony Blair to be “biased” against the Palestinians.

The UN’s Ban Ki-moon, US Sec of State Hilary Clinton, the EU’s Baroness Ashton and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained their reasons in a joint statement:

“In the light of reported Palestinian and press outrage over Tony Blair’s so-called failure to transform Palestine into Norway over the last four-year period, despite its never having been Norway for at least the last 60, we thought it more principled on this occasion NOT to shoot the messenger. We realise we four will be missed by the international community, but we decided it was for the best.  Mr Blair, it should be noted, has made more inroads into his job description than any of us have with ours. Apart from that the rest of us have elections to win and Mr Blair doesn’t. So he can take the flak.”

NOT SHOOTING THE MESSENGER

In response to this the Quartet’s representative Tony Blair said, “It is a relief they have decided NOT to shoot the messenger. I have enough trouble back home at Labour Party conferences where they have a noose with my name on it.  And that’s only because some Conservatives seem to quite like me.”

Just a few reasons Tony Blair survives, while others don’t or perhaps shouldn’t -

RELATED

Quartet on the Middle East (Wikipedia)

The Quartet on the Middle East, sometimes called the Diplomatic Quartet or Madrid Quartet or simply the Quartet, is a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet are the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. The group was established in Madrid in 2002, recalling Madrid Conference of 1991, as a result of the escalating conflict in the Middle East. Tony Blair is the Quartet’s current Special Envoy.

Ban Ki-moon (Wikipedia)

*NOTE:

This report is entirely fictional, just in case you wondered!

NOT RELATED TO ANYTHING SENSIBLE -

Debunking Peter Oborne, C4 and the rest of the Tony Blair debunkers

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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

__________
The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
__________
Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.

Full Netanyahu Speech at UN

September 25, 2011

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25th September 2011

In case you can’t find it in the British mainstream press -

Full Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu UN address to General Assembly Sept 23 2011

It’s hard to know where to start with Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the UN.  His theater of the absurd jibe at the UN itself? His hand of peace. Here are a few excerpts:

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

[Israel is] singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel — the one true democracy in the Middle East.

[UN]- It’s the — the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles: Gadhafi’s Libya chaired the UN Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraq headed the UN Committee on Disarmament.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel’s prime minister, I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. (Cheers, applause.) The truth is — the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.

After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland — it was then that this was braided — branded, rather — shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised; it was denounced! And it’s here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel — the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy. That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality.

You might say: That’s the past. Well, here’s what’s happening now — right now, today. Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world’s security.

You couldn’t make this thing up.

So here in the UN, automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun sets in the west or rises in the west. I think the first has already been pre-ordained. But they can also decide — they have decided that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me — and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Full transcript of Netanyahu’s speech

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Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the UN [part 1/3] (rest at YouTube)

9:31

Full transcript of Abbas’s speech

The sharp of understanding among you may have noticed that Abbas deems himself to be speaking on behalf of ALL the Palestinians in the region – presumably in Gaza too. Yet Hamas, which is another political party ruling over part of the future state of Palestine,  is not even considered in his speech.  It is the Ghost at the party. Neither is its existence,  its refusal to EVER recognise Israel, or its Charter’s intent to destroy Israel even alluded to by those applauding loudly Abbas’s proposal.  Gaza, however, is mentioned by Abbas three times.  An interesting inclusion/omission.

Lest we forget -

Hamas Principles

The principles of the Hamas are stated in their Covenant or Charter, given in full below. Following are highlights.

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

__________
The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
__________
Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.

Tony Blair video interview on 9/11. See why he is still the Best on fighting terror

September 16, 2011

Comment at end

Or –

16th September 2011

Last weekend Tony Blair gave television, radio and newspaper interviews on 9/11.

Thought you might like to see the Jon Sopel interview (in two parts)

9/11 The Tony Blair interview – part 1

9/11 The Tony Blair interview – part 2

Linked too at Tony Blair’s website

Also see report from Quartet on the Palestinian situation on the ground.  Still of relevance even if some think this has been  overtaken by events – announcement by Abbas of Palestinian unilateral proposal at UN.

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Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here

Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

__________
The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
__________
Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.

Tony Blair: Israeli/Palestinian resolution – only through negotiations

September 7, 2011

Comment at end

Or –

7th September 2011

As the day nears – 20th September – when the Palestinians are expected to put their proposal for Palestinian statehood to the UN for ratification, Tony Blair is working hard to try and resolve differences and nullify the need for that divisive call.

Tony Blair is seeking a political settlement within the next two weeks. He has said before that  even if such a state were to be ratified by the UN, clearly without Israeli backing, it would make few practical differences on the ground. Differences regarding security and land claims would  still exist leading, inevitably, to more conflict. In that analysis he is clearly right.

Now, if Mr Jon Snow (see last post) had been paying more attention he might have been able to work out why Mr Blair was in Paris last week. Something to do with this? His 70th visit to the region in his role as Quartet representative?  Other EU leaders are no happier about the 20th September UN proposal than is Israel itself.

Video:Tony Blair at the Regional Cooperation Conference

Tony Blair says that resolution will only come through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians

Monday, Sep 05, 2011 in Office of Tony Blair, Office of the Quartet Representative

Quartet Representative Tony Blair set out his determination to see a return to direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians as soon as possible to go alongside the work being done to improve the facts on the ground.

Tony Blair was speaking in Tel Aviv at the first International Conference for Regional Cooperation, organised by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom.

“Anything by way of economics can never be a substitute for politics,” Tony Blair stressed, in what is his seventieth visit to the region since taking up the Quartet Representative role.

But as far as making progress is concerned, there is “an intimate relationship between economics, politics and security” meaning building the economy “helps politics to work.”

Asked about what he thinks will happen in the region in the next few weeks as the Palestinian Authority plans to go the United Nations, Tony Blair emphasised the need to return to direct negotiations and said he was trying to find a framework that would bring the two sides back to the negotiating table.

“We should try as hard as we possibly can to find a way through that allows us to get back to the only thing that will resolve this, and that is a negotiation toward a viable independent state of Palestine and a secure state of Israel recognised by the region,” Tony Blair said.

“We can carry on with this impasse or that impasse,” he added, “[but] we always come back to the same issue and the same basic conclusion.”

While Tony Blair admitted that he does not know whether it would be possible to resume peace negotiations before September 20, when the United Nations General Assembly convenes, he said his focus was on trying to make that possible.

He acknowledged that the absence of negotiations created frustration all around, but said “there’s no way of looking at this in which we are in a better place without negotiations.”

He concluded by saying that he is still optimistic about peace and is basing that optimism on looking at the big picture.

“If you look at the big picture, it’s not in anyone’s interest not to make peace when you could make so much with peace,” he said. “It’s not sensible to remain in conflict when in peace we could create so much for both Israelis and Palestinians and for this region.”

Commenting on the unrest in the wider region, Tony Blair noted the difference between public protest in Israel and Syria. “What Assad is doing to his people is monstrous and wrong and in the end he won’t remain in power.”

“You’ve got freedom of assembly here…they’re not firing on demonstrators here and that’s the difference in a democracy.”

Source – TB website: Tony Blair: Resolution will only come through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians

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“OUTSOURCING” TO BLAIR

Photo by: Itzik Edri

And if it doesn’t work as the Guardian article mentions, sourced from here,  there’s always someone else for the Obama administration to “blame” in this post-George Mitchell era.

Blair has a long track record of negotiating between the Israelis and Palestinians built up over four years as the quartet’s special envoy. According to Daniel Kurtzer, former US ambassador to Israel, the US administration needed a high-profile political figure to push the parties towards negotiations.

“There is a bit of outsourcing going on to someone like Tony Blair just to see if he can make something work,” he told Reuters. “If he can, the administration will glom* on to it and if he can’t the administration has not soiled its nest.”

*Meaning of American slang “glom”

Yeah, we get the picture. If Blair succeeds it’s all Big O’s doing. If he fails, it’s … guess whose fault?

And …

US says it’s in the lead – but Blair has the “bandwidth”

“We are leading this effort,” he [Kurtzer] said. “The president has given us this platform, everyone is working from that platform, and Blair, with all of his talents is a very important part of that.”

Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank said it would be very difficult to get the parties into talks because neither now seems to want them.

Asked why the Obama administration may have turned to Blair to do much of the current diplomatic work, he said it reflects in part Blair’s track record working with the Palestinians.

“It has something to do with the administration not feeling it has a senior envoy with bandwidth to do this right now,” he said. “And it has something to do with not wanting to expose the president politically by seeming to be pressuring Israel.”

CLINTON LOOKS TO ABBAS

Hillary Clinton has spoken to President Abbas on the issues. Excerpt:

White House spokesman Jay Carney meanwhile said the Palestinian effort was “not productive or helpful,” telling reporters that peace needed to be “negotiated directly by both parties.”

Making the UN membership bid without a peace plan in place would “not bring the Palestinians any closer to statehood,” he said.

Washington is said to be seeking to draft a proposal for peace talks that will be acceptable to Israel, as well as Russia, the European Union and the UN — the other members of the international peacemaking Quartet.

ETCETERA

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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

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The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
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Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.