Rumours abound of the Right Dishonourable Anthony Blair’s imminent departure from his position as the Quartet’s Peace Envoy. The Chosen One has occupied that position since the powers-that-be gave it to him in 2007, at the behest of his mate George W. Bush. It’s highly unlikely that Bush did this because he believed Blair would bring peace, let alone justice, to the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’, and there is little evidence that Blair has brought either over the last eight years.
We know that he persuaded Israel to open some checkpoints at one time another, a mighty achievement to be sure, which the Palestinians seem oddly unmoved by, but which hopefully will be noted when the Nobel Prize Committee next meets. And if they don’t take notice, perhaps God will remember that the Chosen One’s move to Jerusalem coincided with his conversion to Catholicism, though it can’t really be said that Blair has followed in Jesus’ footsteps.
This is not a man to go soul-searching in the desert when he has clearly spent so much time looking at his reflection in the mirror. Jesus may have had his moment of doubt and pain, but Blair has never had his – his ego and sense of destiny are much too powerful. Nor is he the man to be chasing the moneylenders out of the temple, not when so many of them have been pouring vast sums into his offshore accounts.
If Blair’s peacemaking efforts leave something to be desired, no one can say that he’s been idle. Ever since he installed himself at the American Colony hotel he has used his position as a strategic base for a moneygrabbing consultancy scam that has no precedent in modern politics.
The man has simply hoovered up lolly, and the fact that he has no ethical or moral constraints regarding who he lends his services to – and quite often no way of measuring what these services are or whether they are even worth the fees he charges – has meant that pretty much every day in the Promised Land has been a good day for him,and for his old cronies who have jumped aboard his train bound for glory.
So this is a man who will spend more time with Philistines than beggars or widows, the richer and more well-connected the better, whether he’s hanging with them at Davos or jetsetting from one gilded tyrant to another. But don’t you cynics go thinking that he has devoted his eight years in the Holy Land entirely to Mammon and the Golden Calf, while bombs were raining down on Gaza and Israeli settlers were sucking up Palestinian land. Exaro News has just revealed that Blair lobbied Hillary Clinton and others to win the network contract for the Watiniya mobile-telephone operator in the Occupied Territories.
This is vaguely reminiscent of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s wellmeaning naif in the hollow BBC Middle East drama The Honourable Woman, except that there is nothing naive or well-meaning about Blair, and there is definitely no honour. Wataniya is a client of the Qatar-owned company Qtel, and Blair has acted as go-between for Qatar in a number of business deals. Qtel is also a client of JP Morgan, which was one of the first companies to throw cash – some £2 million a year according to some estimates – at the Chosen One to help him through the lean period after he stepped down as Prime Minister.
Blair naturally says he didn’t know this, when he sent Clinton a letter steeped in Blairspeak, warning that a failure for Wataniya would ‘send entirely the wrong signal for the transformative change agenda’ in the Occupied Territories. But yea, it came to pass that the Quartet heard the Chosen One, and so did the Israeli government, and Wataniya Mobile won the contract, proving that rich men may not always be able to enter the kingdom of heaven, but rich men with the right contacts can certainly push through a transformative agenda.
For all these reasons it will be good to see him to go, because he is such an unbearable symbol of our age, with his sanctimonious humanitarian hypocrisy,his unbridled greed, his reckless warmongering and his uncritical Zionist cheerleading.
But his departure also raises the question of why the Quartet put him there in the first place and why it left him in post even when the conflict of interest could be spotted on a satellite camera from Mars. It is somewhat pathetic to hear diplomats declaring only now that he was ‘not effective’ had become a ‘standing joke’ with ‘no credibility’ in Palestine or in the Middle East in general. Many people knew that from the moment he got the job, but these weren’t powerful people so nobody paid any more attention to them than Blair does. Yet now even John Prescott admits that Blair’s actions in Iraq contributed to the catastrophe that is still unfolding there.
So let us shed no tears for the Chosen One, but let’s not forget that the most powerful countries on the planet chose this man to bring ‘peace’ to the most searing and longlasting conflict in the Middle East, and then allowed him to use his position for no other purpose beyond his own enrichment.
Because whatever you think of Blair himself, that incredible decision does not suggest that the Quartet had any more interest in peace or justice than he did.