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Articles on Britain after 2006
Tony Blair
2005 articles on Britain

  • (May 2006) Tony Blair. His approval rating is even lower than George W Bush's and almost as low as Chirac's was at its lowest point. Nonetheless it is likely that Tony Blair will be remembered as one of the greatest statesmen of all times, no less no more than his predecessor Winston Churchill (also widely unpopular at the end of his last term as prime minister).
    Tony Blair has changed forever the image of the political leader. Quite simply, he put his guns where his mouth is. He was instrumental in defending Kosovo from Milosevic's ethnic cleansing, in removing the Taliban from power, in removing Saddam Hussein from power, in several missions to stop civil war in African countries (from Sierra Leone to Sudan's Darfur). He was prominent in brokering a deal between Israel and Palestine, and in stopping Iran's nuclear ambitions. Very few leaders of the past or the present can boast such a respectable record.
    He also gave Britain a long sustained economic boom that beat the average European economy by a large margin. For the first time since the end of the first World War almost a century ago, Britain consistently posted higher growth than Germany.
    In the last years of his reign, Blair has increasingly focused on global issues, from climate change to AIDS to starvation, occasionally behaving as if he were the president of the whole planet and his duties extended to all human beings. Under his rule Britain has committed unprecedented resources to help developing countries.
    All in all, Blair seems to be ruled by a strong sense of justice and by a staunch determination to implement that sense of justice with the full might of British military power.
    The dismal approval ratings are due to Iraq, that stands as the unfinished movement of his masterpiece symphony. He has not been able to turn Iraq into the model of democracy and peace that he had envisioned. He grossly underestimated the backwardness of Arab societies and the influence of religion on such societies. He is probably hanging on in office precisely because he desperately want Iraq to become a success before he leaves office. He does not want to be remembered as the man who caused a mess in Iraq, a mess that was cleaned up by his successor.
    History will tell that Blair was much more than Bush's faithful ally. Blair gave a moral dimension to Bush's cynical policy ("it is better to fight terrorists in Iraq than in the USA"). He also showed that the old European powers can still play an active role in the world without prostituting to all the crazy dictators who happen to have oil or whatever resource Europe needs. Thanks to Blair, Britain enjoyed a brief respite of honor during a century-long decline, a fact that is not true for France (a century-long decline with dishonor).
    Surprisingly, Blair's ambitions have rarely extended to the European Union. His heart just does not seem to be in this strange union of countries that have in common only geographical proximity. Blair gives grand speeches about the future of Africa or the Middle East, but rarely offers any grand solution to the herculean task of uniting Europe. Obviously, he does not perceive a united Europe so worthy an endeavor as, say, fighting AIDS in Africa or reforming the United Nations.
    Blair embodies a British truth that most British refuse to admit: that Britain's future belongs with the USA, not with continental Europe.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • Articles on Britain before 2006
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