The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

James Wolcott - What the hell is Tony Blair still doing at 10 Downing?

An Inquiring Mind Wants to Know

What the hell is Tony Blair still doing at 10 Downing?

The inquiring mind belongs to Vanity Fair's London editor, Henry Porter, who's dumbfounded that the Prime Minister with the intergalactic gaze hasn't been flung into the moat for the harm he's helped do, the furies he's helped unleash.

"Over the course of little more than a week, we have learned that civilian casualties so far in the Iraq war may be more than 600,000; that Britain's Chief of the General Staff believes the conflict could break the army apart; that a federal solution to the growing chaos involving the effective dismemberment of the country is being openly discussed in America; that the US Iraq Study Group, headed by Republican grandee James Baker, is recommending that the US military withdraws to bases outside Iraq and seeks Iranian and Syrian help; and that Britain is now the number one al-Qaeda target, partly, it seems clear, as a consequence of events in Iraq.

"There should be at least one universal response to this in Britain. Why is Tony Blair still Prime Minister after leading his country into such a disastrous war? Any large company would by now have got rid of a managing director guilty of a mistake on that scale. Any institution you care to name would have done the same. Why is Blair immune from the normal requirements of high office?

"Why, instead of being allowed by the cabinet to establish six new policy committees designed to entrench his legacy, has he not been impeached and thrown out of office? Even if his Iraq policy was formed in good faith, the scale of the error surely requires us to ask him and all those concerned with this disaster to leave.

"It doesn't matter now whether you were pro-war, strongly opposed to it or somewhere in between, the policy in the Middle East has been an unmitigated failure, an outcome that was built into the earliest planning for the enterprise. People's views four years ago don't count now because Britain is at the heart of a world-changing catastrophe and as far as our interests go, there has not been a single advantage, not even the one of keeping the special relationship alive."

Over here the tragic bunglers are equally unbudgeable. There is abundant speculation that Rumsfeld may leave after the midterms, but given his disastrous assumptions and ego-mad incompetence, why should be permitted to select the time and terms of his departure? Cokie Roberts made a cogent point on ABC's This Week--I know, I couldn't believe it either--when she said that all you had to do was look at the photograph of this weekend's high-level pow-wow on Iraq featuring the three principle architects of the Iraq war, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, and wonder: How much can the policy actually change with those three still in charge--the ones who set the policy to begin with? It isn't as if any of them are prey to serious second thoughts and soul-searching. As of his most recent interview, Cheney is still relatively sanguine, whereas for Bush, as Steve Gilliard points out, it's personal:

"Bush will not leave Iraq, not because he thinks we can win, or he thinks it's part of the war on terror. But because he cannot face another failure. Which is why Scowcroft and Baker have had no influence on him. They are his father's men, veterans, despite their politics, realists. Bush is not and never has been. When he wasn't hiding from his failure with booze and coke, he hid from it with Jesus. Now he has Henry Kissinger whispering in his ear, telling him what he wants to hear. He doesn't want advice, he wants support and only support. Those who do not support him, are diminished, then banished.

"This is a man who has never honestly looked himself in the face and said I have failed. He has always been protected from failure.

"Which is why Rumsfeld keeps his job. To admit he was incompetent, and some days he seems positively addled, would reflect poorly on Bush.

"When people look to understand Iraq, they look at the facts and see failure, but that isn't what Bush sees. He sees one more chance for personal glory and he will not quit until he is forced to."

Likewise with Tony Blair. This is what happens when we allow elected leaders to behave like little Caesars.


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