Saturday, April 29, 2006
TONY BLAIR ON BUSH, AND THE NEW LEFT
few years ago, before the liberation of Afghanistan, but before Iraq, your correspondent got into considerable trouble with some folks back in Canada due to some 'thinking out loud' emails I was sending home. My disinclination to jump on the 'America is evil, and the root of it all' was only part of the problem. My queries about the state of our Canadian Left, and why we didn't have people like the British have in theirs, such as the tireless antagonist to the Saddam regime and documenter of his atrocities, Ann Clywd, were apparently the most problematical. Where were our statesmen on the Left, who could show eloquence and principle to match Prime Minister Blair, delivering passionately moving arguments on the floor of the Commons, constructed with the ideals of the civilised world?
Tony Blair brought the bulk of his Labour Party along with him in standing up against terrorist tyrants, and vowing defeat of the new (but not really so new) threat to civilisation. Our Canadian Left party, the NDP, was unanimously on the other side. Was there a simple explanation, such as the lack of anyone of Tony Blair's quality in the NDP? Or is it just more proof that knee-jerk anti-Americanism forms a crucial part of Canadian identity? I don't believe that, but I still wonder why the British Left is so different from ours. My excommunication followed shortly after my pre-emptive apostasy.
The British author Con Coughlin had a chat with PM Blair, published last weekend in the Telegraph (free registration), and asked him some questions along these lines. It sounds like he is as puzzled still, as I was in 2002 with my friends at home. These two sections stood out, but it's all good:
I never had a moment's doubt about this. Because 9/11 for me was, 'Right, now I get it. I absolutely get it.' This has been building for a long time. It is like looking at a picture and knowing it was important to understand it, but not quite being able to make out all its contours. And suddenly a light was switched on and you saw the whole picture. It was a defining moment. We stood shoulder to shoulder with America because my belief then, and my belief now, is that America was attacked not because it was America - but because it was the repository of the values of the Western world, and it was the main power embodying them. It was an attack on all of us. And I don't mean that in a sentimental way.I can't understand it either Tony, and I don't think I ever will.
But I keep saying to people: one of the greatest failures of progressive politics in my lifetime has been that, in the anti-American parts of the progressive Left, we have ended up on the wrong side with someone as evil as Saddam. Even now, when we have been there with a UN resolution, we are on the wrong side of the battle between terrorism and democracy. I can't understand how progressive people can be on the wrong side of that argument.
Wai Tim Blair.