He called on leaders to consider the “absurdity” of spending billions of dollars on security against an ideology which is being “advocated” in the schools and institutions of “countries with whom we have intimate security and defence relationships”.
“Some of those countries of course wish to escape from the grip of this ideology, but often it is hard for them to do so within their own political constraints,” he added.
Presumably the ideology against which we are spending billions on security, and which is being advocated in the schools, etc, is Wahhabism, and the country with which we have intimate security and defence relationships is Saudi Arabia. Tony Blair, of course, was only too happy to kill the inquiry into BAE in order to please the Saudis and not spoil the intimate, yadda yadda.
Patrick Cockburn notes Blair’s hypocrisy on this point, but then decides that in the end Blair is being pro-Saudi by attacking the Muslim Brothers. I disagree; I think the answer is that he’s sucking up to the other Gulf states, not the Saudis.
That he’s sucking up to some patron or other is of course blindingly obvious. Philip Stephens is amazingly vicious about Blair’s money-grubbing and attention-seeking:
I struggle to think of a former political leader as diligent as Tony Blair in the sullying of his own reputation. Mr Blair’s Iraq adventure with George W Bush was always going to cast a shadow. A minority will forever condemn him as a “war criminal”. Yet it is his single-minded, almost manic, quest for personal riches that will leave the darker stain on the historical record.
As the idea that invading Iraq wasn’t quite as bad as wanting to make a pot of money suggests, Stephens is trying too hard, like a fast bowler getting carried away down the slope. Bizarrely, he says:
Mr Blair was a better prime minister than history will probably allow. As readers sometimes remind me, I thought him a remarkable politician. It was no accident that he won three elections. His organising insight – that successful democracies marry open economies with social justice – is as valid now as it was then. The pity is that it has been lost on today’s political lightweights. You would not find Mr Blair chasing after the xenophobic populists.
Mate. Blair chased after xenophobic unpopular-populists every day of the week. In office, he constantly threw out eye-catching initiatives to bother asylum-seekers and squeegee merchants. Xenophobic populism was as much part of the Blair mix as Jesus-y canned emotion. In his post-premiership self-justifications, he officially regrets “immigration”, as if there were no immigrants in Britain in 1997.
So does Stephens, here. The piece is worth reading as an example of utterly dull establishment guff, and especially because it defines “populism” as evil, defines its causes as the economic policies he espouses, and implicitly defines anyone who wants to change them as a monstrous “populist”.
Wage stagnation and structural unemployment, themselves born of even deeper trends to do with global competition and automation, have cultivated a sizeable class of people who feel frozen out by mainstream politics and its economic orthodoxies.
The problem here is that, for Stephens, Blair was what the future was meant to be – impeccably globalisey with stage presence. He is still grieving for it, somewhere between denial and depression in the Kübler-Ross process. Those of us who started earlier have finished.