Blair's strong supporting role

Micah Timothy Holmquist micahth at
Fri Dec 18 08:19:25 PST 1998

Blair seems to be playing Robin to Clinton's Batman. Actually as strange as that comparison might seem I can not get it out of mind after a friend brought it up at an anti-war rally last night.

To me the thing that is really interesting about U.S. policy towards Iraq is that I do not see how it can be sucessful on its own terms. Having basically told Hussein that sanctions will never be lifted on Iraq as long as you are in power, should it come as a suprise that he is not interested in complying. At the same time the U.S. seems to have no real resolve to oust Hussein.

So what do people think the real goal of the policy is?


On Fri, 18 Dec 1998, Chris Burford wrote:

> At 10:54 AM 12/17/98 -0500, Doug wrote: RE: Please don't bomb Iraq
> >Carl Remick wrote:
> >
> >>Re Chris's: "The attack on Baghdad is part of a long term skirmishing
> >>for freedom of
> >>manouevre and leadership by the USA among the governments of the world."
> >>
> >>Let's not overlook the role of tousle-haired little Tony Blair,
> >>scurrying around the U.S. military juggernaut proving what a staunch
> >>errand boy -- er, ally -- the U.K. is.
> >
> >Yeah, maybe the Brits on the list can say something about how Blair's towel
> >boy (to use a term from the porn industry) act plays at home.
> No problem. House of Commons overwhelmingly in support. Junior Foreign
> office minister under no pressure at all on Newsnight (noted for its
> rigorous discussion), in handling a highly nuanced consensus with the
> former foreign affairs adviser to John Major, with military representative
> thrown in. All relevant issues "factored in".
> None of the front sheets of the press tomorrow critical, although the
> Guardian has a secondary humanitarian article about what have the Iraqi
> people done to deserve this. That bit easily dismissed as bleeding heart
> liberals, except the Third Way would not be so impolite.
> There is a small left demonstration outside Downing Street. People selling
> Socialist Worker prominently of course. In the Commons a small number of
> brave independent Labour MP's. George Galloway, connected with the radical
> campaigning group War on Want in the past (not sure now) and pro radical
> populist Arab regimes, punning about "degrading weapons". Tony Benn
> interrupted with a reasoned question about what is the alternative could
> give no reply.
> Newsnight did not even bother to have radical left moralists present in the
> discussion.
> The BBC commentator said there has always been an anti-war element on the
> left but the Government will only get into trouble if the action goes wrong.
> Newsnight instead did include for debate a representative of the Iraqi
> National Congress. He claimed that since the US had declared no-fly zones
> in the Kurdish area and in the South they could impose permanent air
> surveillance throughout the country against heavy troup movements, tanks
> and artillery against civilians. Presumably more like the surveillance in
> Kosovo.
> The main participants did not comment on this. There was consensus that
> much as they might like a stray bomb to drop on Saddam Hussein that could
> not be a realistic goal. There was consensus that they could not mount
> international action, or internationally accepted action, which aimed to
> topple a head of state. The pretext is therefore focussed on the aggressive
> threat to neighbours and the use of "terrorist" weapons. The hope is that
> the fall of Hussein will be a bye-product, but it is not predictable. They
> argued that they could not directly support opposition movements militarily
> a) because that would compromise the international basis of the action b)
> it might set up a group of people highly vulnerable to attack by Hussein
> (as when he moved back into Kurdistan).
> They pointed to the lack of decisive outright support for Hussein by any of
> his neighbours.
> It terms of balance of power, rather than radical moralist positions, the
> Blair stance is strong. He has chosen a subordinate role, as Britain has
> taken in relation to the USA for decades, but it suits British capitalism
> in the main, and Blair will come out stronger from this latest turn than
> Clinton.
> Where it leaves Britain weaker is once again straddling the Atlantic
> between the US and Europe, so its chances of being influential in Europe
> depend on a closer convergence of US and Europe.
> I would have thought the marxist postion needs to be to focus on protection
> of the civil rights of local communities as in Kosovo, and opposition to
> the destruction brought by global capitalism which usually is the quieter
> and more insidious form of assault on a country like Iraq.
> Hussein represents a sort of national state bourgeoisie, repressive
> internally, progressive economically in opposition to global capitalism. In
> this battle the heartlands of capitalism are economically stronger than
> marginal capitalist lands like Iraq, and that is what underlies the
> military disparity of course.
> Chris Burford
> London.

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