Archive for the ‘Europe/EU/Lisbon Treaty/Full-time President’ Category

EU Commission President Tony Blair?

May 27, 2014

27th May 2014

My twitter account

Click to tweet this post

El Presidente Blair?

Not that I’m holding my breath or feeling TOO expectant as to the likelihood of the prospect, but just in case, this is to let the usual suspects know they heard it first on my twitter page.

WHO CAN STOP NIGEL FARAGE,  HIS ANTI-IMMIGRATION & ANTI-EU PARTY & SIMILAR PARTIES ACROSS THE EU?

Can this man stop Farage, Ukip et al? More than a few of us think so.

TB _europe_star

Jose Manuel Barroso is about to step down as EU Commission President.  We just felt an “earthquake” across Europe this last weekend. kilroywashere4The multifarious anti-ists regarding the EU project are now no doubt askance with a “why bother?” as this continent searches for a replacement President. Our UKIP MEPs in Britain are probably too busy to notice. They are in full attack mode. Their strategy? To get in there, wreck the joint and leave a note saying “Kilroy Farage was here”.

After the car crash of anti-EU-ism at the weekend and this “Third Man” mention from Christian Thams on twitter

Schulz says me or Juncker as EU Commission President, not a third candidate. Rumours in Berlin say Merkel looks for ‘Third Man’

… I felt it was time to write something.

Like a lot of us, I spent much of the “count” night watching in puzzled bemusement. I thought Mr Thams’ tweet timely, and tweeted my own thoughts on it. My tweet went virtually unnoticed. It got 1 RT from and I faved it for future reference:

I had actually pre-empted that thought in a reply to Harry Vaughan’s tweet, at 1:18am –

__________

And I pointed up the thought again in a reply to Dennis, with the Farage/Blair video link at 2:41am –

__________

CHEWING THE CUD AT BRUSSELS

Now, as I write, the rumours are getting warmer still. EU Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellor Merkel et al are chewing the cud at Brussels tonight. With the realisation that France’s position after the EU elections’ euro scepticism is even more threatening to EU unity, perhaps to its very future, than is Britain’s UKIPism, the time may well have come for Ms Merkel to turn to the man she reportedly derided as “Mr Flash” last time an EU (Council) Presidency post was up for grabs.  Word is that she has thrown her support behind Jean-Claude Juncker, the recently defeated Luxembourg prime minister. He too was mooted as a contender in the 2009 EU Council Presidency race.

From Dave Keating at 4:52pm, today, 27th May –

__________

COULD FRAU MERKEL WARM TO MR FLASH?

The complexities of the in-house limited voting for the Commission President and the Commission members themselves will not ease the pain or anger of those who insist there is no TRUE democratic accountability or choice for us mere voters. The principle, as from Treaty of Lisbon days, is that the group of parties with most electoral support has preference for its nominated candidate. However there have been anti-EU votes from ALL sides, left to right. A certain third way Blairite, the original, could span this breadth with comparative ease and incomparable political nous and productive diplomacy. We should remember that across Europe there are more senior politicians in the Blair mould than ever before, notably France’s beleaguered President Francois Hollande and Italy’s ambitious and new self-declared Blairite Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Such individuals will throw their thoughts into the ring.

Tony Blair has been all over the media today here at home. From BBC Radio 4’s Today (listen here) to BBC’s News 24 (here) to Huffington Post (here). There is no doubt his profile is presently on the rise. That may not be due simply to post-election questions hanging over the leadership Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron.

There is little doubt that should a referendum under a future Tory government as promised by David Cameron result in an “OUT” vote, the rest of the EU would be up the creek without a paddle. Whether we Brits like it or not the UK is one of the three main countries in the Union. Angela Merkel will know this better than anyone, as she watches France’s keenness on “the project” falter even under a socialist leader like Hollande.

EU Commission

__________

The election of EU Commission & President at a glance [click here]

JUNE:

THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECIDES ON ITS PROPOSAL FOR A CANDIDATE FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
(by qualified majority)
JULY:
The candidate negotiates with Parliament’s political groups to get backing from a majority of members
 
ELECTION OF THE COMMISSION PRESIDENT BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT by a majority of its component members (at least 376)

__________

Clearly nothing will be decided over the foie gras tonight. Today’s statement on the Commission President Election at the European Parliament website at 1:19m said:

The candidate of the largest Group Mr. Jean Claude Juncker will be the first to attempt to form the required majority.

__________

From – British Influence, The Campaign to Keep Britain in the EU comes this (uploaded yesterday. No mention of Tony Blair)

Neither of the current frontrunners for the Presidency – the centre-right’s Jean-Claude Juncker and the centre-left’s Martin Schulz – is inspiring. One or other of these so-called Spitzenkandidats might be fine if the EU needed the status quo. They might be OK if the EU needed another integration drive, as both are federalists. But neither is suited to the task of decentralising power and boosting competitiveness.

This group will surely recognise which inspiring European (and world statesman) IS suited to decentralising power and to boosting competitiveness.

Only time will tell if those with the power to decide on the incumbent for the next 5 years of this important position act wisely. Europe – this is not a time to opt for a second MR NOBODY.

VOTE TONY BLAIR FOR EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT.

blair_merkel_kissfrommrflash

For Europe’s future!

You know it makes sense.

__________________________________________________________

Tony Blair to Germany: Stand by euro. To Cameron: Get in there

June 13, 2012

All blog posts 2012 + Original, from 2006 to 2012

Click to tweet this post

Comment at end

14th June 2012

The FT’s Lionel Barber has this very interesting article from The Man, in Jerusalem –

Blair calls on Germany to stand by euro

Tony Blair has delivered a stark warning of a popular backlash against austerity policies in the euro-zone ahead of this Sunday’s re-run election in Greece.

“You look at what the Greeks are being asked to accept: it’s beyond tough,” Mr Blair said in an interview with the Financial Times in Jerusalem.

The former long-standing UK prime minister, a self-professed pro-European, said the risk of unrest applied to Europe as a whole. “In the end, what people will ask is: ‘Is the single currency worth it if that’s what we’re being asked to accept’.”

Mr Blair’s said the remedy should be a “grand bargain” between Germany and the rest of Europe to rescue the single currency. This would involve a pooling of European debt and a new push for growth, matched by deficit reduction through pension and welfare reforms.

[…]

He added that the euro would survive in some form even if the present 17-member set-up collapsed. The euro was central to Europe’s ambitions to be a power on the world stage: “I have no doubt that the single currency makes sense.”

Mr Blair steered clear of directly endorsing a European-wide banking union, as proposed by José Manuel Barroso, European commission president. But he made clear that Britain had to play an active role in negotiations on the next phase of European integration, even though he refuse to say whether this would involve a referendum.

“I am not going to criticise the prime minister…But If Britain were absent, we would be opting out of an incredibly important decision. The important thing is this: Britain has got to put itself in a position where it can play a part in what will be a reconstruction of Europe.”

Mr Blair’s proposals will cause unease in the UK coalition government where Conservatives are loath to sign up to an economic union. The government says it is opposed to making British taxpayers liable for recapitalising eurozone banks or putting major British banks under the watch of an EU authority.

_____

Back to top

Click to tweet this post

Follow Blair Supporter on Twitter 

Tony Blair: ‘Doctrine of The International Community’, Chicago 1999

February 1, 2012

Comment at end

Or –

1st February 2012

[Jump here if you can’t wait to read all of Tony Blair’s 1999 Chicago speech]

But it might be worth a quick read of the below (in grey) in order that you know why the international community is disgracefully lacking in its behaviour as regards the RtP.

It seems quite a few have never heard of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’. It was added to the UN Charter in 2005 AFTER Tony Blair and others of the interventionist mindset had embarrassed the UN by intervening WITHOUT United Nations mandates in such as Kosovo.  (See here, Responsibility to Protect)

Excerpt:

Background: The emergence of the concept of “humanitarian intervention”

Following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and Kosovo in 1995 and 1999, the international community began to seriously debate how to react effectively when citizens’ human rights are grossly and systematically violated. The issue at the heart of the matter was whether States have unconditional sovereignty over their affairs or whether the international community has the right to intervene militarily in a country for humanitarian purposes.

It was during this period in the 1990s, with incidents in Somalia, Rwanda, Srebrenica and Kosovo, that the discussion of a “right to humanitarian intervention” evolved into the concept of a “responsibility to protect”.

In his Millennium Report of 2000, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan, recalling the failures of the Security Council to act in a decisive manner in Rwanda and Kosovo, put forward the challenge to Member States:

“If humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica, to gross and systematic violation of human rights that offend every precept of our common humanity?”

Hat tip for the speech below to PBS Online News Hour

____________________

The Blair Doctrine, April 22nd 1999

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: It is a great pleasure to be here in Chicago this evening and addressing the Economic Club. My thanks to your Chairman, Phil Rooney, and your President, Grace Barry. My thanks too to Mayor Daley for your kindness in welcoming me here.

I must start this evening by saying, on behalf of the British people, how saddened we are by the tragic events in Linleton on Tuesday. For us it brings back sad memories of a school tragedy of our own on 13 March 1996 in a small town called Dunblane in Scotland when 16 children and a teacher died in a hail of bullets. From us in Britain to you here in the United States: we offer you our deepest sympathy, our thoughts and our prayers.

1 am absolutely delighted to be the first serving British Prime Minister to visit Chicago. I wanted to come here to the heart of this great country. To a great cosmopolitan city and the capital of middle America.

Despite the absence of Prime Ministerial visits, there is a long British history with Chicago We set up our Consulate here in 1855.

Marshall Field opened their first overseas buying office in Manchester in 1870. One of Field’ s shop assistants subsequently opened his own store in London in 1909. His name was Harry Selfridge. He employed the same architect who designed your City Hall to build Selfridge’s, the landmark store on London’s Oxford Street.

That sort of interchange goes on today too. Chicagoland is the headquarters of some of Britain’s most important inward investors: Motorola, Sara Lee, RR Donnelly. Nearly half the $124 billion US firms spent on foreign acquisitions last year went on British companies. We would like it to be even more.

Nor is the traffic all one way. British investment in Illinois generates some 46,000 jobs, making us the biggest foreign investor in the State. And the London Futures Exchange is working alongside your Board of Trade and Mercantile Exchange to lead the revolution in electronic trading. The London Futures Exchange looks forward to receiving early CFTC approval for its system to be installed here.

Kosovo

While we meet here in Chicago this evening, unspeakable things are happening in Europe. Awful crimes that we never thought we would see again have reappeared – ethnic cleansing. systematic rape, mass murder.

I want to speak to you this evening about events in Kosovo. But I want to put these events in a wider context – economic, political and security – because I do not believe Kosovo can be seen in isolation.

No one in the West who has seen what is happening in Kosovo can doubt that NATO’s military action is justified. Bismarck famously said the Balkans were not worth the bones of one Pomeranian Grenadier. Anyone who has seen the tear stained faces of the hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming across the border, heard their heart-rending tales of cruelty or contemplated the unknown fates of those left behind, knows that Bismarck was wrong.

This is a just war, based not on any territorial ambitions but on values. We cannot let the evil of ethnic cleansing stand. We must not rest until it is reversed. We have learned twice before in this century that appeasement does not work. If we let an evil dictator range unchallenged, we will have to spill infinitely more blood and treasure to stop him later.

But people want to know not only that we are right to take this action but also that we have clear objectives and that we are going to succeed.

We have five objectives: a verifiable cessation of all combat activities and killings; the withdrawal of Serb military, police and paramilitary forces from Kosovo; the deployment of an international military force, the return of all refugees and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid; and a political framework for Kosovo building on the Ramnbouillet accords. We will not negotiate on these aims. Milosevic must accept them.

Through the air campaign, we have destroyed the greater part of Milosevic’s operational airforce; a quarter of his SAM radar systems – the rest do not operate for fear of being destroyed; his oil refineries and the lines of communication into Kosovo; his military infrastructure including his means of command and communication; and a good part of his ammunition dumps. The morale of the Yugoslav army is beginning to crack. And the KLA is now larger and has more support than when Milosevic started his campaign.

We have always made clear this campaign will take time. We will not have succeeded until an international force has entered Kosovo and allowed the refugees to return to their homes. Milosevic will have no veto on the entry of this international force.

Just as I believe there was no alternative to military action, now it has started I am convinced there is no alternative to continuing until we succeed. On its 50th birthday NATO must prevail. Milosevic had, I believe, convinced himself that the Alliance would crack. But I am certain that this weekend’s Summit in Washington under President Clinton’s leadership will make our unity and our absolute resolve clear for all to see. Success is the only exit strategy I am prepared to consider.

We need to begin work now on what comes after our success in Kosovo. We will need a new Marshall plan for Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia too if it turns to democracy. We need a new framework for the security of the whole of the Balkans. And we will need to assist the war crimes tribunal in its work to bring to justice those who have committed these appalling crimes.

This evening I want to step back and look at what is happening in Kosovo in a wider context

Global Interdependence

Twenty years ago we would not have been fighting in Kosovo. We would have turned our backs on it. The fact that we are engaged is the result of a wide range of changes – the end of the Cold War; changing technology; the spread of democracy. But it is bigger than that

I believe the world has changed in a more fundamental way. Globalisation has transformed our economies and our working practices. But globalisation is not just economic. It is also a political and security phenomenon.

We live in a world where isolationism has ceased to have a reason to exist. By necessity we have to co-operate with each other across nations.

Many of our domestic problems are caused on the other side of the world. Financial instability in Asia destroys jobs in Chicago and in my own constituency in County Durham. Poverty in the Caribbean means more drugs on the streets in Washington and London. Conflict in the Balkans causes more refugees in Germany and here in the US. These problems can only be addressed by international co-operation.

We are all internationalists now, whether we like it or not We cannot refuse to participate in global markets if we want to prosper. We cannot ignore new political ideas in other counties if we want to innovate. We cannot turn our backs on conflicts and the violation of human rights within other countries if we want still to be secure.

On the eve of a new Millennium we are now in a new world. We need new rules for international co-operation and new ways of organising our international institutions.

After World War II, we developed a series of international institutions to cope with the strains of rebuilding a devastated world: Bretton Woods, the United Nations, NATO, the FU. Even then, it was clear that the world was becoming increasingly interdependent. The doctrine of isolationism had been a casualty of a world war, where the United States and others finally realised standing aside was not an option.

Today the impulse towards interdependence is immeasurably greater. We are witnessing the beginnings of a new doctrine of international community. By this I mean the explicit recognition that today more than ever before we are mutually dependent, that national interest is to a significant extent governed by international collaboration and that we need a clear and coherent debate as to the direction this doctrine takes us in each field of international endeavour. Just as within domestic politics, the notion of community – the belief that partnership and co-operation are essential to advance self-interest – is coming into its own; so it needs to find its own international echo. Global financial markets, the global environment, global security and disarmament issues: none of these can he solved without intense international co-operation.

As yet, however, our approach tends towards being ad hoc. There is a global financial crisis: we react, it fades; our reaction becomes less urgent. Kyoto can stimulate our conscience about environmental degradation but we need constant reminders to refocus on it. We are continually fending off the danger of letting wherever CNN roves, be the cattle prod to take a global conflict seriously.

We need to focus in a serious and sustained way on the principles of the doctrine of international community and on the institutions that deliver them. This means:

1.In global finance, a thorough, far-reaching overhaul and reform of the system of international financial regulation. We should begin it at the G7 at Cologne.

2.A new push on free trade in the WTO with the new round beginning in Seattle this autumn.

3.A reconsideration of the role, workings and decision-making process of the UN, and in particular the UN Security Council.

4 For NATO, once Kosovo is successfully concluded, a critical examination of the lessons to be learnt, and the changes we need to make in organisation and structure.

5.In respect of Kyoto and the environment, far closer working between the main industrial nations and the developing world as to how the Kyoto targets can be met and the practical measures necessary to slow down and stop global warming, and

6.A serious examination of the issue of third world debt, again beginning at Cologne.

In addition, the EU and US should prepare to make real step-change in working more closely together. Recent trade disputes have been a bad omen in this regard. We really are failing to see the bigger picture with disputes over the banana regime or hushkits or whatever else. There are huge issues at stake in our co-operation. The EU and the US need each other and need to put that relationship above arguments that are ultimately not fundamental.

Now is the time to begin work in earnest on these issues. I know President Clinton will stand ready to give a lead on many of them. In Kosovo but on many other occasions, I have had occasion to be truly thankful that the United States has a President with his vision and steadfastness.

Globalisation

Globalisation is most obvious in the economic sphere. We live in a completely new world. Every day about one trillion dollars moves across the foreign exchanges, most of it in London. Here in Chicago the Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade contracts worth more than $1.2 billion per day.

Any Government that thinks it can go it alone is wrong. If the markets don’t like your policies they will punish you.

The same is true of trade. Protectionism is the swiftest road to poverty. Only by competing internationally can our companies and our economics grow and succeed. But it has to be an international system based on rules. That means accepting the judgements of international organisations even when you do not like them. And it means using the new trade round to be launched at Seattle to extend free trade.

The international financial system is not working as it should. The Asian financial crisis of last year, and the knock on impact on Brazil, demonstrate that.

The fact is that the Bretton Woods machinery was set up for the post war world. The world has moved on. And we need to modernise the international financial architecture to make it appropriate for the new world.

The lesson of the Asian crisis is above all that it is better to invest in countries where you have openness, independent central banks, properly functioning financial systems and independent courts, where you do not have to bribe or rely on favours from those in power.

We have therefore proposed that we should make greater transparency the keystone of reform. Transparency about individual countries’ economic policies through adherence to new codes of conduct on monetary and fiscal policy; about individual companies’ financial positions through new internationally agreed accounting standards and a new code of corporate governance; and greater openness too about IMF and World Bank discussions and policies.

We also need improved financial supervision both in individual countries through stronger and more effective peer group reviews, and internationally through the foundation of a new Financial Stability Forum. And we need more effective ways of resolving crises, like that in Brazil. The new contingent credit line at the IMF will assist countries pursuing sensible economic reforms and prevent damaging contagion. But we should also think creatively about how the private sector can help to resolve short-term financial crises.

Secretary Rubin and Chancellor Gordon Brown both put forward ideas yesterday. They highlighted the progress already made on improving transparency and in developing internationally agreed standards, particularly for the financial sector. But both identified the key challenges going forward, including how to involve the private sector in the prevention and resolution of crises. G7 Finance Ministers will be discussing these issues next week. I want to see agreement on the key outstanding questions reached by the Cologne Summit.

I hope the Summit will go further too in the case of Russia. We simply cannot stand back and watch that great nation teeter on the brink of ruin. If it slides into the abyss, it will affect all of us. A democratic, outward looking, prosperous Russia is of key importance to the West. We must not let our current differences set us on a route towards the mutual hostility and suspicion which has too often characterised our relationship in the past.

I very much hope that Russia and the IMF can reach an early agreement on a new programme to provide macro-economic stability, avoid hyper-inflation and encourage Russian companies and savers to keep their own money in the country. This however will only be a first step. I want to see a wider dialogue between Russia and the G7 focussing on all of the structural and legal reforms that are needed to improve the economic prospects for ordinary Russians. Russia is a unique economy with its own special problems and its own unique potential. We all need to build on the lessons of the last few years and develop a long term strategy for reform that respects Russia’s history, her culture and her aspirations. If Russia is prepared, with our understanding and co-operation, to take the difficult economic action it needs to reform its economy – to build a sound and well-regulated financial system, to restructure and close down bankrupt enterprises to develop and enforce a clear and fair legal system and to reduce the damage caused by nuclear waste – the G7 must be prepared to think imaginatively about how it can best support these efforts.

We will be putting forward concrete ideas on how to do this at the Cologne Summit – by opening up our markets to Russian products. by providing technical advice and sharing our expertise with the Russians, by providing support both bilaterally and through the 1MF. the World Bank and the other lEls and the Paris Club for the Russian reform efforts.

I believe passionately that we will all benefit hugely from a thriving Russia making use of its immense natural resources, its huge internal market and its talented and x~eIl-educated people. Russia’s past has been as a world power that we felt confronted by. We must work with her to make her future as a world power with whom we co-operate in trust and to mutual benefit.

International Security

The principles of international community apply also to international security.

We now have a decade of experience since the end of the Cold War. It has certainly been a less easy time than many hoped in the euphoria that followed the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Our armed forces have been busier than ever – delivering humanitarian aid, deterring attacks on defenceless people, backing up UN resolutions and occasionally engaging in major wars as we did in the Gulf in 1991 and are currently doing in the Balkans.

Have the difficulties of the past decade simply been the aftershocks of the end of the Cold War? Will things soon settle down, or does it represent a pattern that will extend into the future?

Many of our problems have been caused by two dangerous and ruthless men – Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic. Both have been prepared to wage vicious campaigns against sections of their own community. As a result of these destructive policies both have brought calamity on their own peoples. Instead of enjoying its oil wealth Iraq has been reduced to poverty, with political life stultified through fear. Milosevic took over a substantial, ethnically diverse state, well placed to take advantage of new economic opportunities. His drive for ethnic concentration has left him with something much smaller, a ruined economy and soon a totally wined military machine

One of the reasons why it is now so important to win the conflict is to ensure that others do not make the same mistake in the future. That in itself will be a major step to ensuring that the next decade and the next century will not be as difficult as the past. If NATO fails in Kosovo, the next dictator to be threatened with military force may well not believe our resolve to carry the threat through.

At the end of this century the US has emerged as by far the strongest state. It has no dreams of world conquest and is not seeking colonies. If anything Americans are too ready to see no need to get involved in affairs of the rest of the world. America’s allies are always both relieved and gratified by its continuing readiness to shoulder burdens and responsibilities that come with its sole superpower status. We understand that this is something that we have no right to take for granted, and must match with our own efforts. That is the basis for the recent initiative I took with President Chirac of France to improve Europe’s own defence capabilities.

As we address these problems at this weekend’s NATO Summit we may be tempted to think back to the clarity and simplicity of the Cold War. But now we have to establish a new framework. No longer is our existence as states under threat. Now our actions are guided by a more subtle blend of mutual self interest and moral purpose in defending the values we cherish. In the end values and interests merge. If we can establish and spread the values of liberty, the rule of law, human rights and an open society then that is in our national interests too. The spread of our values makes us safer. As John Kennedy put it “Freedom is indivisible and when one man is enslaved who is free?”

The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people’s conflicts. Non -interference has long been considered an important principle of international order. And it is not one we would want to jettison too readily. One state should not feel it has the right to change the political system of another or forment subversion or seize pieces of territory to which it feels it should have some claim. But the principle of non-interference must be qualified in important respects. Acts of genocide can never be a purely internal matter. When oppression produces massive flows of refugees which unsettle neighbouring countries then they can properly be described as “threats to international peace and security”. When regimes are based on minority rule they lose legitimacy – look at South Africa.

Looking around the world there are many regimes that are undemocratic and engaged in barbarous acts. If we wanted to right every wrong that we see in the modern world then we would do little else than intervene in the affairs of other countries. We would not be able to cope.

So how do we decide when and whether to intervene. I think we need to bear in mind five major considerations

First, are we sure of our case? War is an imperfect instrument for righting humanitarian distress; but armed force is sometimes the only means of dealing with dictators. Second, have we exhausted all diplomatic options? We should always give peace every chance, as we have in the case of Kosovo. Third, on the basis of a practical assessment of the situation, are there military operations we can sensibly and prudently undertake? Fourth, are we prepared for the long term? In the past we talked too much of exit strategies. But having made a commitment we cannot simply walk away once the fight is over; better to stay with moderate numbers of troops than return for repeat performances with large numbers. And finally, do we have national interests involved? The mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo demanded the notice of the rest of the world. But it does make a difference that this is taking place in such a combustible part of Europe.

I am not suggesting that these are absolute tests. But they are the kind of issues we need to think about in deciding in the future when and whether we will intervene.

Any new rules however will only work if we have reformed international institutions with which to apply them.

If we want a world ruled by law and by international co-operation then we have to support the UN as its central pillar. But we need to find a new way to make the UN and its Security Council work if we are not to return to the deadlock that undermined the effectiveness of the Security Council during the Cold War. This should be a task for members of the Permanent Five to consider once the Kosovo conflict is complete.

Politics

This speech has been dedicated to the cause of internationalism and against isolationism. On Sunday, along with other nation’s leaders, including President Clinton, I shall take part in a discussion of political ideas. It is loosely based around the notion of the Third Way, an attempt by centre and centre-left Governments to re-define a political programme that is neither old left nor 1980s right. In the field of politics, too, ideas are becoming globalised. As problems become global – competitivity, changes in technology, crime, drugs, family breakdown – so the search for solutions becomes global too. What amazes me, talking to other countries’ leaders, is not the differences but the points in common. We are all coping with the same issues: achieving prosperity in a world of rapid economic and technological change; social stability in the face of changing family and community mores; a role for Government in an era where we have learnt Big Government doesn’t work, but no Government works even less.

Certain key ideas and principles are emerging. Britain is following them. It is one of the things that often makes it difficult for commentators to define the New Labour Government. We are parodied as either being Mrs Thatcher with a smile instead of a handbag; or as really old-style socialists in drag, desperate to conceal our true identity. In reality, we are neither. The political debates of the 20th century – the massive ideological battleground between left and right – are over. Echoes remain, but they mislead as much as they illuminate.

Let me summarise the new political agenda we stand for:

1.Financial prudence as the foundation of economic success. In Britain, we have eliminated the massive Budget deficit we inherited; put in new fiscal rules; granted Bank of England independence – and we’re proud of it.

2.On top of that foundation, there is a new economic role for Government. We don’t believe in laissez-faire. But the role is not picking winners, heavy handed intervention, old-style corporatism, but: education, skills, technology, small business entrepreneurship. Of these, education is recognised now as much for its economic as its social necessity. It is our top priority as a Government.

3.We are reforming welfare systems and public services. In Britain, we are introducing measures to tackle failing schools and reform the teaching profession that would have been unthinkable by any Government even a few years ago. Plus big changes to the NHS. For the first two years of this Government, welfare bills have fallen for the first time in two decades.

4.We are all tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. The debate between “liberals” and “hardliners” is over. No one disputes the causes of crime. In particular social exclusion – a hardcore of society outside its mainstream – needs a special focus. We won’t solve it just by general economic success. But we don’t excuse crime either. Criminals get punished. That’s justice.

5.We are reinventing or reforming Government itself. The Government machine is being overhauled. Here, Al Gore has led the way. But the whole basis of how we deliver Government services is being altered.

For Britain. there is a special dimension to this.

We are modernising our constitution. We have devolved power to a new Parliament in Scotland and a new Assembly in Wales. We are handing power back to local government, because we believe that power should be exercised as close as possible to the people it affects. We have introduced the concept of elected Mayors which, strange as it may seem to you here in Chicago, has not existed in the past in Britain. The first election for a Mayor of London will take place next year. And we are removing the constitutional anomalies from the past, like hereditary peers voting on legislation, that have proved too difficult to tackle previously.

We also want to change the way in which Northern Ireland is governed, and let me say something on this.

We have made great progress in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement last year was a breakthrough. We have to make one last heave to get over the one remaining obstacle, so that we can establish the executive and the North/South bodies and hand over power to the elected Assembly. The stand off on decommissioning cannot be allowed to de-rail the process when we have come so far. Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taoiseach, and I are determined to find a way through. The people will never forgive the politicians unless we resolve it.

And I would like to thank President Clinton and the Irish American community in the US for the great contribution they have made to coming this far. I know you will assist us again in the final straight.

And the final thing we all have in common, the new centre, centre-left Governments, is we are internationalists and that returns me to my original theme.

For Britain, the biggest decision we face in the next couple of decades is our relationship with Europe. For far too long British ambivalence to Europe has made us irrelevant in Europe, and consequently of less importance to the United States. We have finally done away with the false proposition that we must choose between two diverging paths – the Transatlantic relationship or Europe. For the first time in the last three decades we have a government that is both pro-Europe and pro-American. I firmly believe that it is in Britain’s interest, but it is also in the interests of the US and of Europe.

Being pro-Europe does not mean that we are content with the way it is. We believe it needs radical reform. And I believe we are winning the battle for economic reform within the EU. Two weeks ago the Conservative Spanish Prime Minister and I issued a joint Declaration on economic reform. Shortly, the German Social Democratic Chancellor Schroeder and I will be issuing a declaration on the same subject. We all understand the need to ensure flexible labour markets, to remove regulatory burdens and to untie the hands of business if we are going to succeed. The tide of Euro-sclerosis has begun to turn: the Third Way in Europe as much as in Britain.

As to Britain and the Euro, we will make our decision not on political grounds but on the basis of our national economic interests. We must however ensure that we are ready to enter if we make the decision to do so. And the government has put a national changeover plan in place to convert sterling that will make that possible if we decide to do so.

I also pledge that we will prevent the European Union becoming a closed fortress. Europe must he a force for openness and free trade. Indeed it is fundamental to my whole thesis tonight that we can only survive in a global world if we remove barriers and improve co-operation.

Conclusion

This has been a very broad-ranging speech, but maybe the time is right for that. One final word on the USA itself. You are the most powerful country in the world, and the richest. You are a great nation. You have so much to give and to teach the world; and I know you would say, in all modesty, a little to learn from it too. It must be difficult and occasionally irritating to find yourselves the recipient of every demand, to be called upon in every crisis, to be expected always and everywhere to do what needs to be done. The cry “What’s it got to do with us” must be regularly heard on the lips of your people and be the staple of many a politician running for office.

Yet just as with the parable of the individuals and the talents, so those nations which have the power, have the responsibility. We need you engaged. We need the dialogue with you. Europe over time will become stronger and stronger; but its time is some way off.

I say to you: never fall again for the doctrine of isolationism. The world cannot afford it. Stay a country, outward-looking, with the vision and imagination that is in your nature. And realise that in Britain you have a friend and an ally that will stand with you, work with you, fashion with you the design of a future built on peace and prosperity for all, which is the only dream that makes humanity worth preserving.

____________________

Back to top

__________

Click to Buy Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’

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


Democracy Threatens: Putin, Georgia, Ukraine & “bang to rights” British spies

January 28, 2012

Comment at end

Or –

28th January 2012

DEMOCRACY THREATENS

If you think international affairs do and, for that matter should impact on decisions made by western leaders, you need to watch the ongoing ‘Putin, Russia & the West’ series on BBC2.

Also at BBC website – for 3 more weeks (UK only) – Part 2 of “Putin, Russia and the west ‘Democracy Threatens

“BANG TO RIGHTS” for PLANKERS … er… PLONKERS

The bang-to-rights excerpt was shown on Thursday’s programme.

Can I tell you something? Are you sure now? You won’t get upset? Can you cope with this? OK. I’ll take your word for it.

If you think Jonathan Powell’s bang-to-rights phrase on the spy rock OR showing us that British spies CAN be found out is of more value than the rest of this excellent programme, you’re as thick as two short planks.

In fact if you’re under 21, and eligible to become a Russian citizen, you’d likely fit in well here with Hitl … Putin’s Youth –

In case you missed the real spy-rock story – Putin used the spy-rock to justify a new law drastically restricting the work of non-government organisations – NGOs.  Many had to shut down.

Scroll to 54 mins to see what Putin had to say about the murder of the leading reporter of human rights abuses in Chechnya.

“The journalist was a sharp critic of the Russian government. Journalists should know,  as experts are fully aware, that her influence on political life in Russia was totally insignificant.”

Like her death? Journalists should know.

The second episode includes an extraordinary interview with former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, who was widely thought to be responsible for murder, corruption and sanctions-busting. He tells how, in the 2004 election, he set about getting his chosen successor elected president – with the help of Putin and his Kremlin advisers. The opposition candidate, Victor Yushchenko, tells what it was like to be poisoned during the election campaign. It won him many voters and exit polls gave him a clear lead, but the Putin/Kuchma-backed candidate was still declared the winner. This result sparked the Orange Revolution.

Kremlin officials tell how they made sure that Putin would not face a similar revolution at home. It is claimed critics of Putin, including the British ambassador, were intimidated and some were even murdered. Tens of thousands of young Russians were mobilised to fight the threat of democracy.

__________

RELATED

Part 1 of 4 of Putin, Russia and the West – ‘Taking Control‘. (3 weeks left to view, UK only) – Watch it here Whole programme is also viewable on YouTube here

ETCETERA

1. The present Russian President, Medvedev is asked – “Are you ready to die like Saddam?”

Excerpt:

“An acute, revolutionary situation is now brewing in the country. Are you ready to face responsibility?” journalism student Vladimir Polyakov demanded.

“Do you realise that you could even be condemned to death? Are you ready to take it bravely just like Saddam Hussein did or will you emigrate to friendly North Korea?”

Read rest of above article on the upcoming Russian elections and candidates, or former candidates.

2. BBC News – Syria crisis: UN Security Council mulls Assad measures

The UN Security Council has met to consider a draft resolution against Syria’s government.

Activists and the Arab League urged the UN to take stronger action after an upsurge in violence this week in which dozens of people have died.

The UK, France and Germany drafted a resolution with Arab states supporting the League’s call for President Bashar al-Assad to hand power to a deputy.

Russia, an ally of Mr Assad, has indicated it would not back the text.

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters after the meeting in New York that the draft resolution was unacceptable in parts, but Moscow was ready to engage in talks about it, according to Reuters news agency.

Russia and China vetoed a previous draft resolution against Syria late last year.

Over to you, China.

By the way, I hope you’re still remembering –

TONY BLAIR WAS RIGHT

Back to top

__________

Click to Buy Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’

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


Tony Blair was right on Chirac & UN Resolution on Iraq

January 26, 2012

Comment at end

Or –

26th January 2012

TONY BLAIR WAS RIGHT

[Continued from previous post]

Put out of your mind this part of the narrative.

[At 35:00] “A few days after the Bushes and the Putins Russian soldiers in Chechnya carried out a routine raid on a village […] Russia’s overwhelming force drove the Chechens to suicide bombings and terror attacks“.

It is BBC western liberal parlance on Chechen Moscow Theatre terrorism (emboldened). It is the usual morally equivalent excuse from the “we made ’em do it – all our fault” brigade. Apart from a few minor flaws like that the programme was insightful.

But were France and Germany really determined to flummox UNSC support for Bush & Blair?

Enough to sign up to Putin’s manoeuvering? Putin, who had already by then shown himself to be not exactly trustworthy? It certainly seems so.

I realise it is arguable that the “proviso” mentioned in the programme’s narrative gave Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder wiggle room.

Putin wanted Chirac’s word that he would vote against the war unless there was hard evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The joint position was agreed. If there was a vote without these conditions we would both veto it.

It is arguable. But only just. In realpolitik both had already made it clear to Tony Blair that they did not support the US and British leaders in their quest for a new UN resolution.

Putin, Schroder, Chirac. (We'll wipe the smile off laughing-boy Blair's face)

After forming their newly found mutually helpful relationship with Putin, imagine either the French or  German leader suddenly agreeing to support the UNSC resolution on Iraq.  Acceptable “hard evidence” or not, it would not have happened.

Blair was right.  Putin’s advances to Chirac were simply using the French President’s already public position against the Iraq invasion.

REMEMBER THE HISTORY

Chirac to Blair - "Leo will not thank you ..."

In October 2002, at a crucial EU summit, as Blair and US President George W Bush were becoming increasingly isolated, Chirac privately urged caution, even using the Prime Minister’s then-infant son to bolster his argument, saying – ‘Leo will not thank you if you take Britain into war.’ (See Guardian)

It was also reported in the Guardian article, quoting Stephen Wall, that Blair and Alastair Campbell had decided to place the blame for deadlock squarely on Chirac, following a breakdown of diplomatic efforts to get a second Security Council resolution that could have delayed an invasion.

‘I recall the moment,’ Wall says in the documentary, ‘because I happened to be in the corridor in Number 10 when he and Alastair Campbell were walking down the corridor and they decided effectively to play the anti-French card. They’d been given an opportunity to do so because President Chirac had given a broadcast interview the previous day in which he said that, as of that moment, France would veto a resolution authorising war.’

[NOTE the last sentence above. “They’d been given an opportunity … Chirac … veto”]

Wall also says it was clear that Chirac had not ruled out the possibility of future French support for such a compromise.

Ah oui, mes petits. Peut-être.

Mr Wall did not have to make the decisions.

_____

Part 1 of 4 of Putin, Russia and the West – ‘Taking Control‘. (Four weeks left to view, UK only) – Watch it here.  Whole programme is also viewable on YouTube here

“Putin, Russia & the West”, Part 1 of 4  is also reviewed here at The Telegraph.

Back to top

Or – Tweet this post

_____

Click to Buy Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’

_______________

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


Putin conspired with France’s Chirac to block UN Resolution on Iraq

January 24, 2012

Comment at end

Or –

Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm June 6-8 2007, shortly before Blair left office.

24th January 2012

Tony Blair’s testimony to Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry and to every other questioner on the issue of France blocking a new UN resolution was accurate. France’s Chirac really was determined to scupper the allies’ drive to secure UN backing for war.

According to BBC 2’s Putin, Russia and the West it us hard to come to any other conclusion than this one:

Tony Blair was right.

France and Germany, fair-weather friends of Britain and the USA, were in it together in order to foil US/UK attempts to secure UN backing for war against Saddam’s Iraq.

“BANG TO RIGHTS” – THE RUSSIANS

So, did you switch over to BBC2 last Thursday evening hoping to see the bit about how British spydom was simply dumb? Me too.  It was all over the media, including the BBC. The Russians were “bang to rights” said Jonathan Powell, Blair’s former aide. Since we Brits just LOVE to hear how the bad guys are the good guys and we Brits and Americans, as we all know, are really the bad guys, I had to make sure I didn’t miss it.  I even let the laptop cool down for an hour or so!

Know your enemy, as they say.

I dutifully switched to the BBC and it seems the use of “bang to rights” was no more than a sprat to catch a mackerel. We read all about the “bang to” and “rights” bit on the Russians. Just as we haven’t read all about this interesting excerpt that – let me repeat for the hard of understanding of political intrigue and ally skewering:

TONY BLAIR WAS RIGHT

If you did watch the programme you might have been (temporarily) disappointed.

No stone was left unturned in my efforts to catch the up turning of the “spy rock“.  It didn’t show up; not in a Moscow street, park or anywhere else. This Thursday, it seems.

However, last Thursday’s episode was not to be missed.

Part 1 of 4 of Putin, Russia and the West – ‘Taking Control‘. (Four weeks left to view, UK only) – Watch it here

Update: Whole programme is also viewable on YouTube here

RELATED

Putin, Russia & the West is also reviewed here at The Telegraph by David Blair (no relation, as far as I know.)

To be continued in next post. (That’s enough of a shock for the Blair haters for one day.) Just remember –

TONY BLAIR WAS RIGHT

AU REVOIR DIT CHIRAC ET SES BONS AMIS – PUTIN ET SCHRODER

Chirac, Putin & Schroder agreed to veto ANY US resolution at UN to attack Iraq. Principled or political?

Back to top

Programme info:  Putin, Russia & the West – Taking Control

  • Broadcast on BBC Two, 9:00PM Thu, 19 Jan 2012
  • Available until 9:59PM Thu, 16 Feb 2012
  • First broadcast BBC HD, 9:00PM Thu, 19 Jan 2012

__________

Click to Buy Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’

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


WRONG EU President: (Eddie the Eagle) Herman van Rompuy c/w (Steve Redgrave) Tony Blair

August 7, 2011

Comment at end

Or –

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?

Where is Eddie The Eagle?

The article below is by Steve Morris

__________

Europe needs a leader. It should have chosen one when it had the chance

By Steve Morris

Stock markets tumble, the banks are in crisis and Europe cries out for direction. “We don’t know who is in charge” says former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi.

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….)

Back to top

Click to Buy Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’

_______________

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’.

Blair thinking outside the box: Arab Spring; Libya; Israel/Pal peace; China; Energy; EU

June 9, 2011

Comment at end

Or –

9th June 2011

In the last few days the ubiquitous Tony Blair has been in Spain, China, Ukraine and Norway. Another day, another country. Some in Britain, including the Labour MP mentioned in my RELATED section at the end may have treacherously moved the earth to take THE MAN out of politics. Thankfully, taking politics out of The Man is not under the control of such political pygmies.

In the interview below by The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour Tony Blair once again shows that his finger is still on the pulse of what moves and shapes today’s – and tomorrow’s world.

(Article below is cross-posted from the Guardian)

Tony Blair issues Arab spring warning to west

Dictators must ‘change or be changed’ says ex-PM as western leaders urged to prepare wider plan for Middle East

Tony Blair has warned that the west must be prepared for a wider plan in the Middle East. Photograph: Matt Cardy/PA
Tony Blair has warned that the west must be prepared for a wider plan in the Middle East. Photograph: Matt Cardy/PA

Tony Blair warns the west today that it urgently needs a wider plan to respond to the Arab spring, including a warning to autocratic leaders across the Middle East “to change or be changed”.

His call for a clearer strategic approach comes in a new foreword to the paperback edition of his bestselling autobiography, The Journey.

The former prime minister also praises Europe, and by implication David Cameron, for showing leadership in Libya, saying it would have been inconceivable to leave Muammar Gaddafi in power.

He said that if America and Europe had done nothing, “Gaddafi would have retaken the country and suppressed the revolt with extraordinary vehemence. Many would have died.”

If he had been left in power while the west was willing to see President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt deposed, “the damage to the west’s reputation, credibility and stature would have been not just massive but potentially irreparable. That’s what I mean by saying inaction is also a decision.”

Blair does not call for immediate military intervention across the region, saying instead that “where there is the possibility of evolutionary change, we should encourage and support it. This is the case in the Gulf states.”

He hails the way in which “Europe and America came together over Libya and, though it is difficult and though the way things will turn out is uncertain, it showed leadership; and amongst the criticism, there was also – in the region – relief that leadership was shown”.

While praising European and US efforts in Libya, Blair also calls for an elected European president who would have a mandate for far-reaching reforms including collaborating on taxes. In an interview in the Times he says such an office would give Europe “strong, collective leadership and direction”. But he accepts that the idea has “no chance of being accepted at the present time”.

In his book, Blair acknowledges that the west cannot intervene across the Middle East and claims some leaders are “already embarking on a path of steady change. We should help them keep to it and support it. None of this means we do not criticise strongly the use of violence against unarmed civilians. Or that if that violence continues, we do not reserve the right then to move to outright opposition to the status quo, as has happened in Libya. But it is more sensible to do so in circumstances where the regime has excluded a path to evolutionary change. Then it is clear: the people have no choice. But if there is a process that can lead to change with stability, we should back that policy.”

He adds: “My point is simple: we need to have an active policy, be players and not spectators sitting in the stands, applauding or condemning as we watch.”

He says that the lesson for autocratic regimes the world over is to change – or be changed.

Largely in line with the policy laid out at the G8 summit of most industrialised nations in Deauville last month, he says: “We should stand ready to help with aid, debt relief and the muscle of the international financial institutions, but we should also be quietly insistent that such help won’t succeed unless proper rules and order are put in place.”

Blair, still the special envoy of the quartet in the Middle East, admits the Arab spring is going to make it harder to secure a Palestinian peace deal since Israel is less certain about the nature of the threat it faces.

The stability and predictability of Israel’s neighbours, he says, has been replaced by instability and unpredictability.

“For similar reasons, but with an opposite conclusion, the Palestinian leadership find it hard to go into negotiation with an Israeli partner they don’t trust, to make difficult compromises which will be tough to sell, in circumstances where they don’t know the regional context into which such compromises will be played.”

Blair also warns more broadly that the world has not yet adjusted to the emergence of China as a global economic giant, saying “engagement with geopolitics of the 21st-century will be unlike anything the modern world has seen. Our children in the west will be a generation growing up in a situation where virtually every fixed point of reference that my and my parents’ generation knew has changed or is changing”.

He claims energy security will become as serious an issue for the nation states as defence.

Blair says: “Currently China consumes around 10% of worldwide demand for oil. If its GDP per head carries on rising – and follows the path of similar increases in living standards in South Korea and Taiwan, say – the world output will need to double, and China’s share of demand will rise from 10% to 50%.”

He also questions the way in which the EU leaders have led the debate about its future, saying “there has been an obsession about institutional integration in itself rather than a debate about what we want to do as Europe, where the institutions should be at the service of the policy, rather than the policy at the service of institutions”.

____________________

RELATED

WAS BLAIR’S PHONE HACKED TOO?

At PMQs yesterday Labour MP Tom Watson uses parliamentary privilege (watch here) to claim that Jonathan Rees was targeting high-placed public figures including Tony Blair as well as members of the Royal Family, such as Kate Middleton (Sky News).

As I reminded Mr Watson in a tweet tonight –

blairsupporterBlair Supporter
@tom_watson – last thing bothering you was VICTIMISATION of a former PM. #TonyBlair@tonyblairoffice
_____
And if the EU is on YOUR mind Julie has this at Twitter –
Re tomorrow’s Times front page: If the EU as an independent actor wants role on world stage it needs proper statesman not clown #TB v. Rompy
There is also his Retweet of Julie’s earlier tweet, by –
Jbroks86John Brooks
RT @JuliesThinkTank: What does it tell you if you’re sitting in room full of EU experts, someone mentions Ashton re EU influence & everyone brust into laughter?- http://deck.ly/~ADbLM

Back to top

Click to Buy Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’

_______________

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’.