Today on al-Jazeera TV, Blair agreed with interviewer David Frost that the invasion of Iraq had "so far been pretty much of a disaster". A somewhat tactless admission, given all the lies he's told to Parliament, the public--to pretty much everybody who would listen. Yet this statement has a verisimilitude that will be hard to dismiss, like Cheney's evil chortling that "dunking" prisoners is a "no-brainer".
And just for added fun, Blair's cabinet minister for Trade and Industry gave a private speech in which she slammed him for his dishonesty and "moral imperialism" in Iraq, which she called a "big mistake". She added, "I hope this isn't being reported."
The British newspapers are having a field day with these stories. Here is The Guardian, and The Independent, and The Times. From the Guardian:
Tony Blair conceded last night that western intervention in Iraq had been a disaster. In an interview with Al-Jazeera, the Arabic TV station, the prime minister agreed with the veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost when he suggested that intervention had "so far been pretty much of a disaster".
Mr Blair said: "It has, but you see, what I say to people is, 'why is it difficult in Iraq?' It's not difficult because of some accident in planning, it's difficult because there's a deliberate strategy - al-Qaida with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other - to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war."
We knew that the strain of keeping up appearances would grow too much for Mr Blair. Sooner or later, like Cheney and Bush before him, Blair would make the mistake of blurting out the truth. Nice job at recovering...'we planned for this out the wazoo, so this "disaster" thingee is the fault of the natives who didn't play along.'
Downing Street tried to downplay the apparent slip. "I think that's just the way in which he answers questions," said a spokesman. "His views on Iraq are documented in hundreds of places, and that is not one of them."
Won't do much good trying to distract attention, I think; Blair admitted it's "pretty much a disaster", that's what everybody has been waiting to hear him admit, and journalists are now going to run with it. So will his political rivals.
John McDonnell, the leftwing MP who has pledged to challenge for Labour's leadership, said the prime minister's concession was "staggering" and urged him to bring forward Britain's exit strategy.
And here's more from the Independent:
[Blair's] admission was seized on by opponents of the war last night and will revive demands for the Government to call an independent inquiry into what went wrong in Iraq since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "At long last the enormity of the decision to take military action against Iraq is being accepted by the Prime Minister. It could hardly be otherwise as the failure of strategy becomes so clear."
He added: "If the Prime Minister accepts that it is a 'disaster' then surely Parliament and the British people, who were given a flawed prospectus, are entitled to an apology."
You think we could get one of those apologies over here in the U.S., too? It will be interesting to see if this story turns into a media swarm in Britain. The Lib Dems are ideally positioned to keep the heat turned up, as the main anti-war party. And they don't call Campbell 'Ming the merciless' for nothing. He relishes every opportunity to embarrass the Blair government.
Anyway, Blair's government is doing a pretty tidy job of embarrassing itself today. Here's a parallel story about the statements of the Trade and Industry Minister tearing Blair apart for his Iraq policy. From The Independent:
Margaret Hodge has become the first serving minister openly to attack the Iraq war after describing it as Tony Blair's "big mistake in foreign affairs", adding that he was a man who was driven by "moral imperialism".
It is the first time that a minister has been directly quoted as attacking the Iraq war, although others are known to believe privately that it was a serious mistake....
Mrs Hodge, the Industry minister, told members of the Islington Fabian Society, a pressure group within the Islington Labour Party, that she had had doubts about Tony Blair's foreign policies since 1998 [because of his belief in imposing British values and ideas on other countries]. Challenged by one of the dinner guests about why, in that case, she had voted in favour of sending British troops into Iraq, she replied that she had accepted Mr Blair's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction because "he was our leader and I trusted him".
Aware of the implications of what she was saying, Mrs Hodge added: "I hope this isn't going to be reported."
Yesterday, the minister denied making the comments attributed, which appeared on the front page of the Islington Tribune, a free newspaper. The story was unsigned, but was written by the newspaper's editor/proprietor Eric Gordon, who was described by a fellow journalist as "a hack of some repute, who knows a story and knows what is reportable".
Nice, that last bit. Gordon, you see, happened to be at the dinner, so yes as it turns out, it was going to be reported.
Anyway, the implication is clear: a minister within Blair's government thinks he lied about the grounds for invading Iraq. It doesn't help Blair that he and Mrs. Hodge are old friends.
What is the White House's view about Tony Blair? At the top of their slow-moving propaganda apparatus is a churlish rant against the American news media for having suggested that Blair's views on Iraq were diverging from those of George Bush. Here is the point that we're supposed to take away:
Prime Minister Blair's Policy Is Not New And Is Similar To President Bush's Policy
It's actually underlined in the original. Problem is, the WH makes its point by contrasting the coverage of Blair's comments earlier this week with the coverage given to them by British newspapers. The implication: That the British media gets things right, while American journalists merely give vent to their own biases and parade their stupidity.
So, here's a hint all you biased, stupid American reporters: Take this British story and run with it. It's been vetted by the best in the business, and according to the White House, your job is to transcribe what the Brits are saying.
Oh, and here's another assignment for you. Check out the White House's domestic propaganda website in all its glory. What the heck is this all about, anyhow?
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