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Monday, January 15, 2007

How long is a piece of rope?

Goodness. The Iraqi government really isn’t very good at hanging people, is it? I mean, you’ve had to have measured your rope pretty badly if it’s long enough to actually take a man’s head off:

'Two of Saddam Hussein's key aides have been hanged in Baghdad, two weeks after the chaotic execution of the former Iraqi president. There were "no violations" this time, officials said, but Saddam Hussein's half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, was decapitated as he was hanged. Government officials said the decapitation of Barzan was not abnormal, although it was rare for the head to be severed during hanging. One described it as "an act of God".'

It’s a most peculiar thing, isn’t it? You’d think that the Iraqi nation had really got enough problems on its plate as it is, without going around bumping off members of its toppled government.

Still, it’s comforting to know that this appalling mess has been created not by the shocking ineptitude and political arrogance of America and Britain’s leadership, but by our country’s newspapers. According to Tony, the problems in Iraq were not caused (to any extent) by their deliberately misjudged and misrepresented actions in Iraq, or those of previous US and UK administrations, but are the fault of the press, for having the sheer outrageous audacity to publish photographs of the results of their Middle Eastern occupation (e.g. children with no arms, Abu Ghraib prisoners being tortured, kidnapped aide workers having their heads cut off, and soldiers and civilians being brutally murdered):

‘Tony Blair has turned the blame for his disastrous military campaigns in the Middle East on anti-war dissidents and the media. Warning it would take the West another 20 years to defeat Islamic terrorism, the Prime Minister used a wide-ranging "swansong" lecture on defence to denounce critics and the media who have been a thorn in his side since the invasion of Iraq.
Acknowledging the public backlash against the Iraq war, Mr Blair said: "Public opinion will be divided, feel that the cost is too great, the campaign too long, and be unnerved by the absence of 'victory' in the normal way they would reckon it.
But the Prime Minister added: "They will be constantly bombarded by the propaganda of the enemy, often quite sympathetically treated by their own media, to the effect that it's really all 'our', that is the West's fault. That, in turn, impacts on the feelings of our armed forces. They want public opinion not just behind them but behind their mission."

See, the thing that upsets Tony is not, it would appear, that these things are happening, that they are a FACT, but that newspapers have “distorted the truth” by showing the British public the results of our government’s actions.
This woolly thinking he couples with a continuing insistence that it matters not what the REALITY of his actions might be, so long as the ‘belief’, or the ‘intention’ that drove them was well-intended.

For a political leader to hold his hands up and essentially say, “none of this is my fault because I thought it was a good idea at the time” is deeply frustrating and ultimately childish, because it is an argument intended largely to deliver him from the spotlight of public criticism over a war we never wanted (how can we possibly be mean about that nice Mr Blair when really he just meant well?).
Still, as a man who has concerned himself more than any of his recent predecessors with the health of his own public image and saleability (his saleability being the principle reason he was made PM instead of Gordon in the first place), the superficiality of Tony’s thinking is thoroughly depressing, but not, sadly, remotely surprising.

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