- (May 2007)
Whether it is a coincidence or not, it is striking that Tony Blair has announced he will end his tenure as British prime minister almost exactly when his
arch-rival Jacques Chirac will be replaced by Nicolas Sarkozy.
Blair's achievements are mainly in the economic sphere: Britain enjoyed a
virtually uninterrupted economic expansion at the same time that most of
continental Europe went into stagnation and even recession. Gordon Brown gets
a lot of credit for this spectacular performance, probably the best that
Britain has done (relative
to the rest of the Western world) since World War I.
Unfortunately, like all the European and USA leaders of his generation, Blair
has lived in denial of the two issues that bother his electorate day in and
day out: crime and immigration. Just like Clinton and Bush ignored the fact
that more and more USA citizens feel that they live in a jail, surrounded
by criminals (and NRA members) armed to their teeth who have little to lose
because they almost never end in jail, so Blair ignored the fact that rioting,
vandalism and theft (luckily, unlike the USA, Britain has virtually no guns
and therefore virtually no murders) are devastating the British way of life.
Blair has done virtually nothing to address the issue that is rapidly becoming
the dominant issue of the West: Islamic immigration and integration.
The fundamental paradox of the West (as an Italian put it to me, "If Muslims
can build a mosque in Rome, why can't we build a Catholic cathedral in Mecca?")
has only been enhanced by Tony Blair: there is obviously a double standard
in the way the British government treats Muslims (giving them all the rights
of a real democracy) and in the way millions of Muslims
around the world treat Britain (supporting the terrorists and just about
any mad dictator who wants to harm British citizens or soldiers).
Blair has neither been able to explain the British position to the Islamic
world nor been able to explain the double standard to the British people.
Blair's record on health care, education and public transportation is also
In the end, Blair's tenure was more typical of a good conservative party
than of a good liberal party. Like most conservative leaders, Blair focused
on economic growth at the expense of the middle class, of the proletariat
and of the lumperproletariat, in the typically conservative belief that
ultimately everybody has to become a capitalist and therefore that
poor people are merely people who do not coooperate. This may be true or false
(it is largely true in Europe), but it is strikingly different from the
slogans of the Labour Party that elected Blair.
Any European coming from the continent to visit Britain is appalled by the
state of public transportation, truly worthy of a third-world country.
The British who can afford it have access to excellent private health care,
but those who cannot afford it are subjected to Darwin's natural selection
in their own hospitals.
As Ian Kershaw, Professor Of Modern History, wrote: "There is is remarkably little substantial improvement to show for 10 years of Labour government".
In his goodbye speech Blair said that Britain is now "confident of its future".
Exactly the opposite. The British wonder what Britain future generations will
inhabit if the trend is not reversed.
Blair's staunch alliance with the USA (first with Clinton and then with Bush)
was a mystery to a lot of British people and will probably remain so.
The world is probably better off without Milosevic, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein in
power, so it should thank Blair for his support of the USA tacit policy of
fighting hardline Islamic regimes anywhere, but it is not clear what Britain
gained from the Islamic wars.
There is no doubt though, that Blair is one of the few western leaders who
truly believed in bringing democracy to the rest of Europe first and then to
the Middle East. Blair had the vision
that most Europeans do not have: the whole world, from the Far East to Central
Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa to Latin America to Eastern Europe
has spontaneously moved towards democracy.
Except for one region: the Islamic world from Iran to Morocco.
The rest of the world can wait that 300 million Muslims start their own
democratic revolutions or can try to force those revolutions from the
outside. I personally side with those who think that the Islamic world
is both culturally and military incapable of overthrowing the tyrants
(there never war the equivalent of a French or USA revolution in the Arab or
Persian world, and, worse, the belief in Allah is stronger than the belief in
good government). Therefore i think that Blair's contribution was a positive
step towards destabilizing the status quo, and i blame the Islamic culture
(and the USA) for the failures in Iraq more than i blame the British government.
When people judge the partnership between Blair and Bush, they forget that
Blair was liberating Kosovo when Bush was only a Texan governor. Blair's
messianic vision of worldwide democracy was not born in september 2001.
On september 2001 it simply found a new vehicle (George W Bush).
Blair clearly believes in military power, not just diplomacy. In order to
understand this, one has to be more of a a historian than a politician.
History teaches that great periods of peace coincided with large geographical
agreement on basic values, and generally this "agreement" was provided by
a superpower (whether the Roman Empire, the Mongol Empire or the USA).
There is virtually no example in history of small countries with different
value systems that coexisted peacefully and spontaneously.
Indirectly, Blair has an interesting view of who is the new superpower: not
the USA, but globalization. Blair has been the first world leader to approach
globalization as a) inevitable, b) blurring national borders and c) good.
Bush, for example, may agree with a) and c) but not with b). Chirac may
disagree with all of them. Blair views the globalization process as the
superpower that can and should impose peace on the entire world. Globalization
compels all the countries in the world to interact, not just coexist. This can
be done peacefully only if every single nation agrees with some core values.
If they do, world peace will be a given. If they don't, war is inevitable.
Therefore, from his vintage point, Blair is more than willing to justify
military intervention in the name of a higher good: world integration and
Few people interpreted correctly his "Britain is the greatest nation in the
world". What Blair really meant is that Britain is the country that invented
precisely that set of core values (liberal democracy, capitalism, free trade, human rights
and so forth) that he envisions as the core values for everybody. Those are
the core values that Blair is willing to go to war for, anywhere and anytime.
In a sense, Blair represents the exact opposite of the philosophies of
"relativism" and "clash of cultures". Blair's view is that there is only
one legitimate culture and one absolute set of "right" values.
Blair wants to emphasize what nations, religions and cultures have in common,
not what makes them different.
Blair's vision of a world community that shares the exact same values is
not so far fetched, despite the obvious setbacks in the Islamic world.
The whole world, from Russia to China to India to Japan to Brazil, is
endorsing precisely that set of values, inherited from British liberalism
via the USA. Blair's vision is happening as he dreams it. In a sense, he is
indeed a son of his age. He embodies the very nature of the post-Cold War world.
Whether the Islamic world will eventually burn the Quran and join the rest
of the world or become a different isolated kind of world or start World
War III is the great theme of the 21st century.
But one has to give Blair credit for refusing to believe that there is
anything inherently different about the Islamic world that would prevent
"them" to be as free, as smart and as rich as the rest of the world.
Blair might have a future as an international leader of the democratic world.
Hopefully, he will find a new mission in life as a catalyst for badly needed
reforms at the United Nations.
(See What is wrong with the United Nations).
Blair is today hardly remembered for being the prime minister that ended
Britain's longest civil war: the war against the IRA in Northern Ireland.
He may also be remembered as the prime minister who presided over the
disintegration of the United Kingdom, as it was under his watch that
Scotland was given independence all but in name.
Future generations may blame him for not trying harder to integrate the
two British regions of England and Scotland instead of treating them like
the nations that they are not.
By the same token, Blair was weak in convincing the British to move towards
a deeper integration with the European Union. Britain is, more than ever,
a distant member of the Union. Given he was unable to integrate the English
and the Scottish, it does not come as a surprise that he was unable to
integrate the British and the continental Europeans. Blair's biggest
limit was precisely his inability to lead masses towards accepting the
view of the world as one place.
The biggest compliment paid to Blair comes from the two men who will now
fight for control of British politics: Gordon Brown (Blair's likely
successor within the Labor Party) and David Cameron (leader of the Conservative
Party). Neither has any intention of fundamentally altering Blair's Britain.
compare with France, where both candidates were united in denouncing the
system inherited from Chirac and determined to change it.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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