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7th August 2011
Now and again, on the basis that I’m not keen on re-inventing the wheel, I just cross-post. Especially when the article so used stands in its entirety without additional comment. Not that that’ll stop me commenting anyway. What do you think I am? A British
journalist reporter or something?
So as America is running on the wrong battery – an AA and not an AAA – and British & EU leaders are either on hols or wish they were, WHO’RE THEY GONNA CALL?
Misattributed to Henry Kissinger it seems, it’s nonetheless a question on a lot of lips right now, and not just outside of Europe.
In Germany it’s called Schadenfreude. In France it is translated physically into a gallic shoulder shrug. Here in Britain, if it didn’t matter to us, we could just gloat, as we do over so many other things we think we got/get right. We’re often wrong, as we were in not offering our strong support to one of our own. As we are if we think we can escape scot-free from the EU/USA’s financial travails. Plus ca change. But this time, by way of small consolation, it won’t be Tony Blair in the firing line when we yell –
WHO’RE WE GONNA BLAME?
The article below is by Steve Morris
By Steve Morris
EU leaders should be reminded that they have only got themselves to blame. Two years ago they had the chance to put someone in place who could have help fill the vacuum of leadership which is crippling the response on both sides of the Atlantic.
But when the moment came to choose the first proper President of the European Council, they picked the unknown Herman van Rompuy over the infinitely better qualified Tony Blair.
It was an epic misjudgement, a deliberate decision to choose weakness over strength, invisibility over stature, putty over steel. In the diplomatic Olympics, it was the equivalent of passing over Steve Redgrave in favour of Eddie the Eagle.
The decision, of course, was welcomed by many commentators in Britain. Here the EU President’s role was widely mocked as a vanity job, a pointless orgy of limos and canapés.
Today’s events show how wrong that was. The job of bringing Europe’s fractious parties together, corralling and cajoling them to make decisions, is both difficult and vital. We are all paying the price for the absence of anybody who is able to do it.
Around Europe, there were plenty who did want Tony Blair to do this job. It wasn’t hard to see the advantages of a heavyweight who could not only galvanise Europe but, as David Miliband put it, stop the traffic in Washington or Beijing.
Blair had formidable qualifications. He had extensive experience on the world stage. Northern Ireland showed his ability as a patient but determined negotiator. His contacts were unrivalled. People like Barack Obama hadn’t only heard of him, but openly admired him. And his gifts as a communicator meant he could explain the importance of Europe both to its citizens and the wider world.
Still younger than many of the world’s leaders, able and willing to serve, this was a golden opportunity for Europe. Tragically, it was a chance his former colleagues spurned.
The problem was that there were too many EU leaders who didn’t much like the idea of a bigger, better, more effective, more famous figure taking their limelight.
Elsewhere in the world, the notion that we could pass up Blair in favour of a Belgian non-entity was greeted with bafflement. It was viewed, rightly, as an eloquent illustration of Europe’s apparent death wish.
People in Brazil, India or Australia must assume we are completely mad. It is one thing to face declining influence in the world – another actively to choose irrelevance.
Their verdict has been proved right. Watching poor Mr Van Rompuy struggle over the last 18 months has been embarrassing.
Even in EU capitals, few know his name. In meetings at the White House or Kremlin he cuts a pathetic figure.
As they dither, squabble and pass the buck, pleas from European Commission President Barroso and ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet for somebody to take a lead fall on deaf ears. In the turmoil, Van Rompuy is invisible, irrelevant, impotent. What we need is somebody to get a grip.
Let’s hope memories of this lack of leadership last beyond this current crisis. Next year, we have a chance to put this right, when the President’s job comes up for renewal.
We can only hope Europe learns its lesson – and that Tony Blair is still willing to serve.
Meanwhile, Europe’s ship faces the storm with nobody of real stature on the bridge.
It could have been different.
Steve Morris is Portland’s Managing Partner. He worked at the European Commission in Brussels for five years and subsequently was an adviser to Tony Blair in 10 Downing Street.
Oh yes, oh so different…
RELATED (Not that I’m saying “I told you so”, but I tol….)
- What do OTHER Europeans think of the new top EU post-holders? Not a lot.
- Rompuy directive to EU citizens: Write a Haiku poem
- Here SHE is! The New EU President
- NO decision on the EU President? Could be. Paddy Power has closed the betting!
- Mr Belgium – (not Rompuy, but the Bilderberg Chairman) – says Blair “wrong man”
- ITN’s non-story has died before Blair’s EU candidacy
- Has Tony Blair packed in the EU Presidency race? ITN says he has
- High-placed Belgians in BRUSSELS say: “Rompuy? Who he?”
- Tony Blair article on China’s New Cultural Revolution
- (Herman Van) Rambo Vs Bond … Tony Bond
- Will it be Napoleon Van Rompuy, or Friday breakfast in Brussels for Blair?
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
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)