Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Blair handed Iran a PR coup posted by Richard SeymourOrdinarily, I keep well away from the free London papers. Actually, I keep well away from them all. But for a few days in a row, I've seen the Metro, and the letters pages have run repeated letters suggesting that in all prevailing circumstances the Iranian government is more trustworthy than Blair. I've seen polls suggesting that most Britons wouldn't support military action to free the marines even in final instance. The American press has been full of vitriol and scorn for Blair's failure to to smack the Iranians about, and the British press hasn't been absolutely fulsome with praise, often more or less calling Blair a liar. Then Channel 4 gets superior diplomatic access than the government, and gets some serious answers as well. Then, trying once more to appear in charge of the situation, Blair more or less sets a deadline (albeit a meaningless one), saying the next forty-eight hours would be crucial. Then the government withdraws from that, saying that one must be cautious and patient (which would have been the correct line to take from the start). And now this:
Blair has been comprehensively humiliated. It's a real hoot that his last days should be characterised by such a colossal fuck-up, and the manner of its happening is symptomatic. When you consider that a deal could easily have been reached without all this fuss and bravado, in a much shorter time, it's clear that a Downing Street PR operation went terribly wrong. Scenting the prospect of a foreign policy triumph and a wave of patriotic fervour to see him through, Blair allowed himself to raise the stakes, and do so in such a way as to make himself look ridiculous by his failure to be coherent, get serious support from the UNSC (which merely looked forward to a resolution of the crisis), stimulate any kind of action, and yield anything other than condescending encouragement from Bush. We keep hearing about how Iran is isolated. The fuck they are: if anything, Blair was isolated, damned with faint praise and fainter support. The American government wants to bomb Iran in its own time, and presumably found the British government's histrionics somewhat embarrassing and diverting.
I'm not up for this self-pitying "Britain the Weak" griping that comes out of some of the commentators. The British government is certainly weak and corrupt in its relationship with the United States, but it is every bit as vindictive, bullying, and self-interested as the empire it seeks to be best buddies with. Yet what has been revealed here is the fundamental weakness of this government and its very tentative hold on power. In many ways, it compares unfavourably to the last days of the hated Tory regime, and is saved only by certain oddities in our electoral system in which the support of a quarter of voters is taken as a resounding mandate and the basis for a despotic majority. But watch it lose in Scotland, Tomb readers. Watch the nation-wide slump for New Labour at the next local elections. Watch its base crumble and fragment. And then build something positive in its place.