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Beast of the Month - November 2002
Tony Blair, British Prime Minister
"I yam an anti-Christ..."
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
Every even year October is a lead-in month to US elections. In 2002, with the economy tanking and crooked accounting decimating the value of Wall Street, what was the Democratic Party spending the month doing? Showing its unflinching support for a war on Iraq and consolidation of executive power via Homeland Security under "president" Bush. Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt both seemed to be in a competition to prove their supposed love of America by sniveling to the bellicose whims of an illegal squatter. (Although in the case of Daschle, his mild protests to the anti-labor elements of Homeland Security reorganization were met with charges of being unpatriotic by right-wing Republicans who, unlike him, never served the US in the military, much less a war as he had.)
Still, the spineless and prostate nature of the Democratic Party is a predictable sight by now. What is a tad unusual is when a foreign leader seems to exceed even our pathetic standards of bootlicking. In the case of the UK, the Brits have had such a leader for quite awhile in Tony Blair, The Konformist Beast of the Month.
Such sniveling isn't new to Blair: he was quite the eager lapdog to President Bill Klinton as well. In fact, when he first became Prime Minister, he was often referred to as the British Klinton, not for his sex drive, but for his "New Democrat" style of politics. That he has been equally compliant to both Billie Boy and Shrub says all that needs to about this political philosophy.
The stakes have become increasingly higher, however, and Blair's continuing self-debasement has caused concern and criticism throughout the UK. The criticism was probably best expressed by pop star George Michael, who - in his video "Shoot the Dog" - included animation of Blair both as Shrub's poodle and in a dress while dancing with Bush. (Some may snicker at the ironic indictment of the former Wham! frontman effectively mocking the manhood of the Prime Minister.)
And just what has Blair been sniveling for? Unsurprisingly, it is for a consistently reactionary policy. While Slick Willie was in office, he backed every desperate military campaign Klinton pushed whenever the heat behind Peckergate was aroused. Of course, in these cases, he was backed by most of Europe, as the missions and targets were usually easy slam-dunks. More telling was his vociferous support of genetically modified foods into British agriculture, which, though a shocking norm in the US despite widespread protests and opposition here, was highly opposed throughout Europe (which has wisely regulated or banned the process.) Taking a break from the status quo in the European community, Blair backed the US-led GM movement, in the defiant face of mass UK public opinion, including that of Prince Charles himself.
As war loomed in Afghanistan after 9-11, Blair was first among non-equals to embrace the hawkish stance of the BushMob. This, in itself, wasn't too unpopular, as despite the immense misgivings of Europe to Shrub, 9-11 did induce mass sympathy to America in the world (and frankly, the Taliban deservedly weren't a particularly popular group.) The stakes have been raised with the war on Iraq, however, and his ass-smooching nature to US foreign policy stands in sharp contrast to the rest of Europe, which remains unconvinced on the slapdash reasons supposedly for the war.
Let's give some credit where it's due here: Tony Blair, after all (unlike Shrub), is no dummy. There's a lot of oil in them there hills of Iraq, just as there is in Afghanistan via the Caspian Sea. Blair, therefore, may be wisely getting first in line on the Pentagon gravy train of black gold profits, knowing that despite the UK's enrichment, they'll still be a distant third in terms of Arab hatred to Israel and Great Satan.
But is it worth the heavy price? To many in Britain, Blair's demeanor in the face of an aggressively imperialistic America is a humiliating vision of the leader for the formally unmatched British Empire. But that's only a minute measure of the price. A more telling wage is in terms of human costs, in deaths to both the Iraqi people and British soldiers for this endeavor. This leads to a less cynical explanation of why Blair has been cheerleading the US in both their Afghanistan and Iraqi operations: unlike the rest of Europe, Britain is haunted by the memory of the (at least alleged) appeasement of Hitler by Neville Chamberlain in the 1930s, which supposedly led to WWII. Whether the appeasement myth is true or not, it certainly has been central to framing British political strategy for nearly sixty years, and it's definitely a hard mythos to shake. But looking at the puny armies, money, and political power of the nonetheless reprehensible Taliban and Saddam regimes as compared to the Shrubistas, one has to wonder which side more closely resembles the Third Reich. History, The Konformist gravely suspects, won't judge Mr. Blair too kindly on his choice.
In any case, we salute Tony Blair as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Tony!!!
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