Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday 6 February 2009

Blair takes breakfast with Obama

I have no idea what this is about. Tony Blair, for whatever reason, seems to retain his position of high respect in the US, to the extent that President Obama considers it worthwhile to honour him with a 'prayer breakfast'; maybe Tony Blair is doing good work as Middle East envoy and if he is at least partially instrumental in resolving some of the problems that beset that region, then it will be to his credit and perhaps make up for having [being obliged to have] left the Labour Party in the hands of its current leader and therefore our present Prime Minster. Blair was not a good Prime Minister, but at least in some ways he was plausible in the role, if not effective, which is more than can be said for Gordon Brown.

Unlike in the US, we in the UK are not accustomed to seeing our politicians 'gush' about religion and it was clear throughout his period as Prime Minister that Tony Blair chafed against British political orthodoxy in this respect, a situation he quickly 'rectified' almost immediately he ceased to be Prime Minister. This is undooubtedly a part of the reason why he seems to be so popular in the US, where a strong religious faith amongst politicians seems almost to be a 'job requirement' which few successful American politicians can afford to ignore, at least in the past twenty years or so.

Anyway, in this video-clip Tony Blair waffles about something or other, without actually seeming to say anything (a technique I have observed from that gentleman many times over the years) whilst being deeply squirm-inducing to my ears at least (and I venture to suggest to quite a significant number of my fellow Britons, too), whereas Barack Obama does at least seem to develop his arguments in sensible sentences and with definite objectives in mind:

One cannot help but feel that President Obama will, in practice, depend principally on the good offices of his own mid-east envoy George Mitchell, with Blair being - well, perhaps not actually sidelined - solely of value as some kind of token international element in what will undoubtedly be, if it succeeds at all, a product of US diplomacy managing to reconcile the opposing forces in the Middle East (Israelis, Arabs and Iranians) to tolerating, if not liking, each other. I think that Barack Obama is a very astute instinctive politicians who knows the importance of 'face' in inter-personal relations, as well as the importance of trying to ensure that no-one is potentially working at cross-purposes, even inadvertently. That is I am sure the context in which Tony Blair's presence there yesterday should be seen.

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