19 July 2003
“There is no more dangerous theory in international politics today than that we need to balance the power of America with other competitor powers, different poles around which nations gather.” — Tony Blair
Render unto Caesar (or else)
Thus spake the Emperor’s English regent in paying his respects on a flying visit to Washington DC, our latter-day Rome, and spelt out in no uncertain terms which side his bread is buttered on. If anyone had any doubts about where New Labour’s allegiance lies, this statement surely dispels our doubts once and for all. The Independent headlined its story “History will be my judge” (18/07/03) but I don’t think we’ll have to wait that long for some kind of judgement on Blair’s appalling address to Congress, packed full of so many lies that it’s difficult to know where to begin unpacking it all. One thing is clear, had Blair made such a speech in the UK, far from getting seventeen standing ovations, there would have been howls of rage and our more theatrically inclined pundits will have noted the wall to wall theatricalisms it contains.
This single statement speaks reams and is worth deconstructing, something the mass media have been loathe to do, for Blair is telling us that there can only be one superpower and that it’s the US. It’s also a thinly veiled slap in the face for the EU and anybody else who dares question the emperor and his regent, and just in case we don’t get the message, later in his act of submission to the imperium, he states that:
“Any alliance must start with America and Europe. Believe me if Europe and America are together, the others will work with us. But if we split, all the rest will play around, play us off and nothing but mischief will be the result of it.”
However, “the rest” as with “other competitor powers” are never identified but the message is clear, bow to the imperium or else. And in a complete reversal of his statements in 2002 about not ‘going it alone’, he tells us:
“But let us start preferring a coalition and acting alone if we have to”
Yet even as Blair bowed and scraped, things were falling apart back home. The ‘fall guy’ Dr David Kelly, wheeled in as yet another diversion from the increasing clamour for answers, turns up dead the day after being cross-examined by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on whether or not he was the ‘real’ source’ of the BBC’s story on ‘sexing up’ the September dossier. Now whether he jumped, slipped or was pushed is neither here nor there, but what it does reveal is just how desperate the ruling elite are to bury the opposition under a welter of disinformation and diversions from the central issue. Things are getting out of hand, so much so, that in what is probably Blair’s final justification for war, he said:
“11 September was not an isolated event but a tragic prologue. Iraq; another act; and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it is over. We are bound together as never before…. When people say that risk is fanciful, I say: We know the Taliban supported al-Qa’ida; we know Iraq under Saddam gave haven to and supported terrorists; we know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people who regard it as God’s will, in the act of suicide, to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God’s judgement…. Can we be sure that terrorism and WMD will join together? If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive.”
So now, here we have Blair, aping Bush’s rationale for war; the connection between Middle East terrorism, the Taliban/al-Qu’eda and Saddam Hussein. Finally, all pretence has been dropped and Blair is publicly committed to the imperium come hell or high water. It matters little whether or not the WMDs are found. His only concession to ‘old European’ thinking is his call for a ‘solution’ to the issue of a Palestinian state, but even here, buried in his message, is the code of the racist demagogue when he says:
“This terrorism will not be defeated without peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. Here it is that the poison is incubated. Here it is that the extremist is able to confuse in the mind of a frighteningly large number of people, the case for a Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel; and to translate this into a battle between East and West; Muslim, Jew and Christian.”
Yet it is Blair who is making the connection between “East and West; Muslim, Jew and Christian.” Where Palestinians fight for their right to an independent state, in Blair’s view this fight is now a battle between East and West and for the destruction of Israel. According to Blair, people are so stupid that the ‘extremist is able to confuse’ the struggle for an independent state with the destruction of Israel. He goes on to tell us that:
“[W]e know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people who regard it as God’s will, in the act of suicide, to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God’s judgement.”
Note the choice of words; “we know there are states in the Middle East…who regard it as God’s will”. Which states? We are not told but we can draw our own conclusions. As with the entire speech, every reference to threats is couched in his ‘beliefs’ and the fact that he ‘knows’ but we are never told what, exactly, it is he believes or knows, except the omniscience of the imperium and the reference to:
“another part of the globe, there is shadow and darkness where not all the world is free, where many millions suffer under brutal dictatorship and poverty”
And again, the source of the suffering is not stated, merely inferred and one gets the clear impression that Blair’s wordsmiths, laboured over the juxtaposition of every word, every phrase. It’s almost too perfect in its construction eg, when he says “where not all the world is free.” Sweeping, all inclusive statements that ultimately say nothing but imply everything.
Blah’s language is instructive as his speech contains the following loaded words and phrases, carefully placed throughout the speech and calculated to create ‘fear and loathing’:
“[T]here is shadow and darkness where not all the world is free”
“[A] new and deadly virus has emerged.”
“The virus is terrorism”
“Here it is that the poison is incubated.”
“Poison…deadly…virus…incubation…terrorism…darkness.” The parallels with speeches from the Third Reich are all too obvious but ultimately, in spite of carefully crafted phrases it owes more to King Lear when Blair tells us that, “I feel a most urgent sense of mission about today’s world.” So it’s all about what Blair ‘feels’ rather than what he knows. The dialogue is a carefully crafted theatrical propaganda act, designed to elicit the right kind of emotional responses from its target audience. There’s something almost Shakespearean about the entire performance when King Blair says “Iraq; another act; and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it is over.”
Ultimately however, the act is no more than that and a very derivative one. No amount of theatrics can alter the fact that the performance may well be Blair’s swan song rather than victory speech.