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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tony Blair: The missing piece of the neocon jigsaw

The Pan-European petition to stop Tony Blair becoming EU President now has over 15,000 signatures. If you haven't already signed, please spare a couple of seconds to pop over to the European Tribune website to do so. Why is it so important to Stop Blair? Because his appointment as EU President would be the final piece of the neoconservative jigsaw. Here's my article from the Morning Star.


Almost five years on from ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’, the neo-con dreams of imperial conquest have hit the buffers. Despite the lies about the ‘surge’ being a great success, Iraq remains in chaos: in the first week of February alone over 200 people have been killed in the violence. In Afghanistan the situation from the neocons’ viewpoint, is even worse. “There is no doubt that armed resistance to foreign occupation is growing and spreading. Nato forces' own figures show that attacks on western and Afghan troops were up by almost a third last year, to more than 9,000"significant actions", writes Seumas Milne in The Guardian.

The neocons had another setback late last year when the Joint Intelligence Report stated that there was no evidence that Iran was developing nuclear weapons- thus removing their favoured casus belli for military aggression against the Islamic Republic.

Most normal people when faced with defeat and humiliation on such a monumental scale would admit the game is up and make their exit from the political arena. But neocons, as surely the whole world knows by now, are not normal people.

Five years ago, Donald Rumsfeld arrogantly stated that the US, would, if necessary, go it alone in Iraq and attacked ‘Old Europe‘ for its opposition to the illegal war. But now, the empire builders realise they urgently need European support. With its own military forces overstretched and its economy heading into recession, the US desperately needs the EU to fall into line, and for European troops to be sent- in their thousands- to die on the front line.

That’s why Condoleezza Rice has been scurrying frantically around Europe’s capitals this week.

The opposition of most of the EU to the Iraq war still irks the neocons and they are determined to do all they can to ensure that Europe’s governments are much more pliant in the future.

The regime change last May in France, in which Jacques Chirac, who had opposed the Iraq war was replaced by the staunch Atlanticist Nicolas Sarkozy was warmly welcomed in Washington. And Sarkozy‘s choice of the "liberal interventionist" and Bilderberger Bernard Kouchner as Foreign Minister could not have been more to the neocons liking.

Kouchner was the only prominent member of the French Socialist Party who supported the Iraq war, elevation to the grandeur of Quai D’Orsay wasn’t a bad reward for being proved wrong. Already a shift in French foreign policy can be seen, with Sarkozy taking a much more hawkish line on Iran and saying he would like France to return to NATO’s military command. Charles De Gaulle must be turning in his grave.

Other recent elections in Europe have also gone the neocons’ way. In Poland, the new government of Donald Tusk announced last week that it had agreed to the United States plans to install a missile defense system on Polish territory. The foreign minister in the Polish government and the man who announced the controversial decision, is Radek Sikorski, a former Executive Director of the ‘New Atlantic Initiative‘, a part of the notoriously neocon American Enterprise Institute. Sikorski is married to the ├╝ber neo-conservative Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, who once said that France and Germany would “risk being completely disqualified as serious members of the international community” when Iraq’s WMDs turned up.

With Sikorski steering Poland’s foreign policy we can expect the country to play an even more aggressive role in undermining the democratically elected socialist government in neighbouring Belarus- a country where the US State Department would love to engineer a regime change.

In his excellent new book ‘The Last Soviet Republic’, Stewart Parker chronicles the way Poland, with US backing, has interfered in the domestic political situation in its neighbour. Back in 2004, Sikorski himself opened a conference held in the offices of the American Enterprise Institute, entitled ‘Axis of Evil’ Belarus - the Missing Link- which featured leaders of the Belarusian opposition and various US officials. Sikorski certainly hasn’t wasted time in pleasing his former colleagues in Washington; in addition to announcing the missile shield agreement, he also said that Poland supported the expansion of NATO to include Georgia and The Ukraine.

As welcome as recent developments in France and Poland are to the neocons, what the serial warmongers require most is to have control of the EU itself. Which is where a certain former British Prime Minister comes in.

The appointment of Tony Blair as President of the European Council, with extended powers in the sphere of defence and trade would be the culmination of the neocon dream: to fully neuter Europe as alternative source of global power.

While the election of Sarkozy has already neutered France, traditionally the main European source of opposition to Pax Americana; the appointment of Blair as EU President would be the final piece of the jigsaw. But while Blair's appointment would be a dream come true for the Empire builders of the Project for the New American Century, for the rest of the world, it would be a nightmare, making European involvement in US illegal wars of aggression far more likely.

Will the neocons succeed in their aims?

Whether they do or not they do, depends on us, the people of Europe. Already a pan-European petition has been launched to stop Blair from being EU President, it can be signed at the website course, signing petitions on its own, won’t be enough. The people of Europe need to wake up to what’s going on and withdraw their support from any leaders or political parties who favour closer military ties with Washington.

If the US neocons want more wars, let them do what Donald Rumsfeld boasted of five years ago, and fight them on their own. Europe, "Old" or "New", should have nothing whatsoever to do with them.


Anonymous said...

On the other hand, if Blair does get appointed, it will lose the EU what little credibility it still has left. Which might be a good thing.

Karl Naylor said...

The problem, Neil, is that Coalition forces have sustained few casualties relative to the strategic goal-control of Iraq's oil reserves.

There is a need to be objective here.

Already 'superfortresses' have been built and the pipelines are well guarded.

The US administration does not care that much about mounting casualties because, in any case, a large number have been caused by sectarian violence and terrorism.

That does not let the USA off the hook as far as the so-called humanitarian justifications are concerned.

But few care about that these days, nether the 'neocons' nor extreme elements of the 'anti-war' coalition who were only ever interested in the political capital to be gained by a US failure.

The failure to bring peace to Iraq was inherent in the very fact that this nation was going to be invaded anyway for control of the oil without ant real plans to invest in infrastructure.

There was no Marshall Plan and this was never going to be the case.

Lots of Europeans brought up in the post-war era can't get this. They still see the USA as flawed but somehow invest their hop in the fact that the USA is the only great power that might use its superpower for the good of all humanity.

The pejorative 'neocon' needs to be used carefully. Wolfofitz and Perle DID want democracy and freedom in Iraq but had lost all contact with reality because they believed by toppling a dictator and introducing neoliberalism, Iraq's oil wealth would trickle down to the masses.

It was Rumsfeld who based the attack on pure realpolitik. After the chaos, he said 'democracy was up to them'.

John Gray's Black Mass is brilliant on this.

Most Western commentators try to impose their own framework of history on to Iraq, whether neocons or radical leftists. The European experience is of little help. Like the spurious notion of 'the Iraqi resistance'.

It doesn't exist. Only Hobbesian anarchy. Sectarian militias and shady groups vying for alliances and preparing themselves for power when and should the US withdrawal take place.

Half the time one part of the insurgent groups are supporting the US for tactical reasons against their rivals

'The resistance' is a throwback to WW 2 and the nation state. Iraq is not one and never was. The comparisons are futile.Plus 99% of Kurds want to break away. What about their democratic rights ?

Democracy without sovereigny and authority accentuates disintegration along polarised lines. In itself it is not always a universal good and cannot be installed overnight and takes a long period of struggle within a land.

That's why Milliband's ideas are so dangerous...

Karl Naylor said...

One more thing, I'm depressed by Poland's role in all this and that relates to what I said about Europeans still being locked in Cold War thinking. The multipolar world will become a reality and must be dealt with.

Sikorski's comments on Merkel's diplomacy with Putin over oil pipelines being similar to the Nazi-Soviet Pact was absurd and crude hyperbole.

I read Applebaum's Gulag and still believe it is a brilliant and passionate denuciation of an inhumane system of mass murder. For this she deserves credit.

The epilogue ( if you've read it )was unconvincing, comparing Putin's Russia with 'Neo-Sovietism' and not an attempt to restore the power of the Russian state to protect its people after the catastrophe of 'shock therapy'.

Neoliberalism in the 1990s creted the anarchy to which authoritarianism and the fight to control oil and gas, energy security, has replaced the old Cold War bipolarity which ensured a glacial stability for half a century.

Whilst I am personally sympathetic to Plish nationalism, I see no reason why it should have, in a new way, prostrated itself before US Imperial power. After all, in the 1980s the USA thought Solidarnosc was a source of 'instability'.

Only in retro does the USA seem like the champion of Central Europe and the liberation was only a side effect of the attempt to defeat the Soviet Union. It wasn't always the main foreign policy goal.

My point here in Slovakia and Hungary has been:why sacrifice subservience of one kind as a satellite for another kind ?

Neil Clark said...

Hi Karl:
Many thanks for your post; I'll try and get back later to yr other points but just one quick thing. You say
"Wolfowitz and Perle DID want democracy and freedom in Iraq "-
Yup, of the Henry Ford variety. ie the 'democracy' that elects neoliberal pro-US leaders.
Wolfie didn't show much concern for democracy in Indonesia in the 1980s did he?
Neocons couldnt care a jot for democracy in the way most people understand the term, all they care about is PROFITS.
Minden jot,

Neil Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have always suspected that Tony Blair, like his close allies in the Iraq War,George W Bush and John Howard, are the "action heroes" of the NeoCons while the true masters work from behind. Now that he is out of office he tries to recycle himself as an ambassador of peace, mediating in the Middle East, giving public lectures on the rule of law,etc., while his own legacy in office is flawed with public disinformation, especially on the real reasons for going to war. For a self-declared man of faith his sins to mankind are unforgiveable.