Blowback: What did Tony Blair expect?

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Tony Blair has published his memoirs, A Journey. He is getting a lot of publicity for it, though probably not the kind that he was looking for. In Dublin at a book signing he was pelted with eggs and shoes by protesters who see him as a war criminal. His next event in London was cancelled for fear of more of the same. What did he expect? He involved the U.K. in an act of aggression against Iraq based on lies and is an accessory to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, including his own soldiers. Never mind the unnecessary invasion of Afghanistan which he is also a party to. After the Second World War Germans and Japanese were sent to the gallows for their acts of aggression, why should the architects of the Iraq/Afghanistan/Global War On Terror be treated any differently?

Down in the United States General Colin Powell, who presented the American lies to the United Nations and helped sell the Iraq War, has apologized, sort of, for what he did, saying that he regrets taking the false information to the UN, though he did not know that it was false at the time. That may be true, but one has to wonder. Either the Bush administration was not composed of morons, and they knew what they were doing, or the U.S. military and intelligence communities are seriously incompetent. The former is more likely.

The history of the past 50 or more years shows us that people in the western democracies have been poorly served by their leaders, at least in the field of foreign affairs. The Carter regime led the charge against the Soviets in Afghanistan and set the stage for the mess we are now stuck in. Sucking up to feudal war lords and religious fanatics to get a jab in at the communists turns out not to be such a bright idea, at least if global stability and human rights are the goal.

Human rights, it seems, is only the goal when they coincide with economic and political objectives. After the war crimes trials and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights following the Second World War, it was back to business as usual for the major powers, protecting their economic interests as best they could around the world, even if it meant subverting democracy and installing brutal dictators. Democracy does not seem too important if it includes a country taking control of its resources and nationalizing foreign holdings. It is no wonder that the western powers are considered hypocritical by some, preaching one set of values while supporting their antitheses abroad.

It is also no wonder that these actions have created considerable resentment and are directly involved in creating the global mess that we now confront, a mess best described as blowback. Following the same paths and the same type of leaders as we have in the past will make the situation worse. Many people realize this, hence the demonstrations against those like Tony Blair.

Unfortunately blowback can beget counter blowback and lock us in a destructive cycle hard to escape from. Witness the idiocy surrounding the case of the mosque at so-called "Ground Zero" in New York. Rather than absorbing this proposal and turning it to something positive and non-controversial, egged on by political interests hoping to find an advantage, people are setting their hair on fire and running around half cocked making the matter far worse than it has any reason to be.

Another case in point is the Dove Outreach Center in Florida where the pastor is planning to hold a public burning of the Koran. In response Muslims around the world are setting their hair on fire, ramping up the resentment which no doubt may lead to more violent acts. What is the point? Either way. Why burn books to make a point or take a shot at other people? Why care if someone burns a book at all? Books are only books, Koran, Bible, the latest Harry Potter, an old Sears catalogue, nothing worth getting in a fight over.

What is worth getting in a fight over is honest government. Being lied to and misled into needless wars and other questionable adventures is not something we should have to accept. Some people do not, as Tony Blair is witnessing first hand.

Jerry West is the publisher, editor and janitor for The Record, an independent, progressive regional publication for Nootka Sound and Canada's West Coast.

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