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Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Blair close to victory

When you read this heading, you'll probably think that Josh is either quite out of his mind or that he is joshing. Neither explanation is true. Blair is in a first rate position and, if he plays his cards right, he should come out of this whole Iraq business with his prestige unharmed and probably enhanced.

In December, this is some of the advice I gave him: (you will find it in the archives for December; the exact date is 7 December and the posting is headed "John Howard's rhetoric")
Tony, my boy, the first thing you must do is contact all your European friends and allies and tell them about your game plan. Tell them that no matter what you say and do in public on this issue, they are to take your pronouncements with a pinch of salt ... Your words are carefully calculated with a significant end in view: the attempted taming of the mad US bull elephant. This is a mammoth (pun intended) task that requires great care.

You must make every indication that you will be joining [the US Hebrew Gog] in his adventurous obfuscations; that way, while you are apparently 'on side', he may just possibly be open to rational suggestions such as going to the UN. At the last minute, if he is really determined to go to war, neither you nor any one else will be able to stop him, but it's worth trying to moderate his position somewhat. Your chiefs of staff will be able to give you lots of reasons (excuses) for backing down at the last minute. Ideas such as a lack of proper equipment or the need to provide too many servicemen to cover the expected firemen's strike, spring to mind (see Josh blogs, passim).

The important thing, though, is to let our European allies know what you're up to. This will enable them to give voice to European worries, while you continue to toady up to the Gog in a good cause. It's a high-risk strategy but what else can you do when the nutcases have their fingers on the buttons/triggers? The one place their fingers aren't is on World feeling generally.
The general idea then was that Blair would have some influence before finding an excuse for not participating in the attack. His influence has, so far, been greater than I had expected - getting the US to work through the UN was a notable achievement. So great, in fact that there is still a possibility that the US Hebrew Gog [anag. George W. Bush] may back down if Britain withdraws. A coalition of the willing that excluded Britain - not really credible, is it? I'll bet that Baroness Amos, in her trip to Angola, Cameroon and Guinea has been told not to lobby too hard. (Only a guinea for the corrupt president of Guinea, perhaps.)

Britain, of course, has a growing list of reasons for refusing further involvement, ranging from the pragmatic (our troops aren't prepared) through the political (Blair's party and most of the country are against the adventure, especially without UN endorsement) to the downright self-interested (his leadership would be under threat). Clare Short's outburst can only have helped his hidden agenda, despite 'the comfort' it may seem to have afforded Saddam Hussein.

And then there's "The Halliburton connection". (Try googling: Donald Rumsfeld Halliburton for some 'flavour'). You will be hearing lots more about this, I promise you. The US administration has published a list of approved contractors to take part in the rebuilding of Iraq. Here's the link. This list is disquieting in two ways.

Firstly, Halliburton is on the list. This company had, until recently, Donald Rumsfeld oops I mean Dick Cheney as its chief executive. Jobs for the boys, then.

Secondly, there are no British companies on this list. Now, one would expect French companies to be omitted for obvious reasons but to leave out British companies is deeply insulting, given our apparent support hitherto.

There is little of substance the UN can do if the US goes it alone. But Britain may step back now (or very soon), especially if there is no relevant resolution to follow up on 1441. Then, the rogue nature of the US, at least under its current administration, will be highlighted. Some (most? all?) members of that administration see the UN as nothing but a hindrance to US interests.

For the UN to survive this difficult situation, and probably the only way it can, the rest of the World must make clear its opposition to US aggression. America has spat in the face of everyone else on many occasions. Kyoto, steel tariffs and the International Criminal Court spring to mind, not to mention the apparently unconditional backing for expansionist Israel.

Europe is the obvious 'country' to lead opposition to American hegemony. It would be tragic if Britain were to find itself on the wrong side of this dispute. But if Blair is secretly in cahoots with Chirac, it would not be surprising: Britain's long-term destiny lies in Europe, not with the USA.

Blair will, of course, deny his secret agenda. He will appear penitent before his party, laughing up his sleeve. The possibility of his 'martyrdom' will resonate throughout America and help the opposition to this deeply unpleasant administration. He should be able to contribute significantly to Dudya's being a one-off aberration. "Poodle pees on shrub" - how about that for a headline?

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