Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Observer/Guardian - once more with feeling for Blair

What's more contemptible: Tony Blair's latest views in the Observer/Guardian on support for the military coup in Egypt, or the Observer/Guardian giving him such uncritical space to air them?

A small sample of Blair's shameless chutzpah:
"So what should the west do? Egypt is the latest reminder that the region is in turmoil and won't leave us alone, however we may wish it would." (Emphasis added.)
He continues in lofty, Orientalist vein:
"Disengagement is not an option, because the status quo is not an option. Any decision not to act is itself a decision of vast consequence. At its crudest, we can't afford for Egypt to collapse. So we should engage with the new de facto power and help the new government make the changes necessary, especially on the economy, so they can deliver for the people. In that way, we can also help shape a path back to the ballot box that is designed by and for Egyptians."
Predictably, this leads on to his repeated call for Assad in Syria to be ousted by the same 'benevolent military' means. As ever, for Blair, military interventions, military 'solutions'.

Of course, Blair, Cameron, Obama and much of the media reporting them seem squeamishly averse to mentioning that the Western-backed Egyptian military is, in itself, fundamentally inimical to any kind of progressive or democratic development. The clue is in the coup.

Trained, courted and funded to the tune of $1.3 billion a year by Washington, any political alternative the generals might seek to effect will always have their own and their paymasters' self-interested imprint.

Which is why Obama's policy circle, like Blair, are urging America to stay dutifully close to them.

Egypt's military, or SCAF, own around forty per cent of the economy and are propped-up a US administration which can't call the overthrow of Morsi and suspension of the constitution a 'coup' as, defaulting to Congressional law, it would necessitate the withdrawal of such funding.

Whatever authentic revolutionary spirit still driving much of the Egyptian populace, such aspirations can never be served by this kind of external control and internal repression, as is so catastrophically evident now in the military's murderous purge of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters.

An autocrat, neoliberal and Washington placeman, Morsi and his conservative brethren were taking Egypt in no hopeful direction. People do certainly have the right to be on the streets exercising real democratic power. But the brutal means of removing Morsi, and any populist endorsement of such means, effectively sacrifices the independence of that fragile revolution.

With the coup and military killing now threatening a salafist backlash and possible civil war, isn't this instability, division and curtailment of any radical movement in Egypt (and beyond) precisely what the West and its military clients deeply wish for?   

As with his long support for Mubarak's repressions and then Morsi's collaborations, how fitting that Blair should now be openly endorsing the military's 'vanguard' efforts to find and install another Western-preferred entity.           

There should be little need to give Blair's own arguments here any more house room. A craven warmonger, the word 'masquerading' seems inadequate to convey the staggering effrontery of his claim to be any kind of democrat, diplomat or peacemaker.

Nor is it entirely obvious why Blair should command such attention. A widely reviled figure, this hasn't inhibited his considerable run of Guardian op-eds

The Guardian would likely argue that everyone is still entitled to their say.

It's a specious defence. Blair's column presence, one suspects, owes much more to the cloying respect 'our' leaders and ex-leaders enjoy no matter the nature or scale of their warring wickedness.   

What's particularly reprehensible is the Guardian's own servile reporting of Blair's piece, as in this notable interpretation:
"As the Middle East envoy representing the US, Russia, the EU and UN, Blair's intervention will be seen as provocative among the region's Muslim population, which views last week's dramatic events as an indefensible coup organised by the Egyptian military establishment. It also marks a striking development in the thinking of Blair, who now accepts that, in some of the world's more fraught regions, democracy will not necessarily deliver the kind of governments that can be defended in the face of overwhelming popular protest."
The assumptions here are as remarkable as Blair's own posturing.

Why assume that Blair ever really thought democracy mattered? Why is it readily accepted that Blair has suddenly undergone some kind of key 'conversion'? Why not, more obviously, assert that he has no principled interest in democratic approval or disapproval, whether in his contemptuous dismissal of mass anti-war sentiment, in the mercenary toppling of states the US/UK disfavours, in supporting virulently anti-democratic regimes like Saudi Arabia or in his unwavering defence of Israel's apartheid state?

How come such a political shyster, corporate carpetbagger and, most importantly, mass war criminal - as should all be plainly obvious, even to the Guardian  - is allowed so much media space?

These questions also apply to Channel 4 News and Krishnan Guru-Murthy who has, likewise, given Blair an open platform to deliver his fatuous creed.

It's the seeming 'anomaly' of the Guardian and other liberal media: 'crusading for truth and liberty', while dutifully protecting the worst abusers. 

The Guardian is presently engaged in a key effort to publish Edward Snowden's heroic disclosures over US/UK intelligence crimes.

Glenn Greenwald, the resilient figure running most of that output and defending Snowden to the hilt, has expressed his deep admiration for the Guardian's editors and journalists in staying with the story and defending Snowden.

Yet, while Greenwald may be right to praise the paper's efforts in this situation, he seems regrettably reticent in highlighting its wider service to power.

The 'crusading' side of the Guardian reflects, more prosaically, its market-positioning; namely, the commercial benefits to be gained from capturing that niche status as a 'radical-liberal' outlet. Of course, Guardian journalists may also be understandably proud of their eagerness to run such a vital, conscience-led story.

But that shouldn't detract us, or them, from criticising the Guardian's wider apologetics and subservience. There's no contradiction in praising the Guardian for defending Snowden while seeing its establishment-serving function.

The ever-forensic and conscientious Greenwald most likely sees all this, but is, perhaps, caught in a kind of 'loyalty trap'. Still, the point can't and shouldn't be avoided. 

Thus, consider how, despite its role in the Wikileaks revelations, Rusbridger and his editorial circle turned vociferously on Julian Assange, something which Wikileaks has kindly reminded Greenwald of.
"Guardian didn't walk away, in the end, but it flinched and redacted repeatedly and continues to withhold vital information."
While Guardian writers have subjected Assange to every form of character slur, just look at the protection the paper still affords Blair and others considered 'politically ours'.

Recall, in this same regard, Rusbridger exercising his 'editorial duty' in warning David Cameron about the questionable bona fides of Andy Coulson.

Not long ago, the Guardian performed an embarrassing cave-in after trying to hire miltant Zionist Joshua Treviño as a regular, big-name columnist. Again, the  purpose was to pitch itself as a leader in the US online market. Awkwardly for the Guardian, Treviño's past reactionary comments proved too much of a liability.

Yet, while Treviño was seen as beyond the pale, Blair, a rabid extremist by any similar humanitarian standard, is treated with due deference. 

We can, again, cite free speech, even for those we might find heinous - a right that Greenwald would admirably defend.

But what of the Guardian's own view of Blair, his high war crimes, his efforts to cover his tracks, his deceiving persona as a media pundit?

Shouldn't the Guardian, even if still allowing him such space, be simultaneously condemning his postures? Shouldn't it be actively campaigning for his indictment? Shouldn't it be running constant editorials urging others to keep that campaign going, helping to bring him and his co-conspirators to international justice?

That, of course, would be unthinkable, much more unthinkable than finding any criticism in the Guardian's last coy speculations about Blair's political return.  

When it comes to Blair, there's always room for inclusion, always scope for mitigation, always that loyal Guardian editorial urging: once more with feeling.


Rose said...

Another good one John. Thanks

You omitted to mention the interview with John Humphreys on BBC Radio 4 at 7.30 yesterday morning; same chilling war-mongering talk, delivered in that unctuous, earnest way he has.

There was a small attempt by Humphreys to challenge him on the fact that President Morsi had been democratically elected, but it was swept aside by Blair's usual blizzard of BS and I noticed that Humphreys did not attempt to interrupt in the way he does with lesser mortals. He obviously knows his place.

What angered me most was at the end when they all joined in laughing at some fatuous in-joke; talk about an old pals act. Sickening.

John Hilley said...

Many thanks for detailing that, Rose. It's truly amazing just how extensively Blair is being feted by our media scribes. And, as you say, so much of the club-like joviality accompanying it.

Deeply complicit people.