Thursday, April 03, 2003

Everyone is still trying to figure out just what motivated Tony Blair to commit Britain to the unholy massacre of the Iraqis. There are conspiracy theories that some kind of blackmail must be involved, and some simply think he's lost his mind. I was listening to a radio interview with Tariq Ali the other day, and he was asked the very same question. I summarize his points (I hope, fairly):

  1. Blair is leader of the Labour Party, but is in fact extemely conservative, more conservative than most members of the Conservative Party (in fact, he has rolled back, or intends to roll back, most progressive legislation in Britain).

  2. Blair is a fundamentalist Christian.

  3. Blair is trying to return to the days of the entente between Reagan and Thatcher, and the British military is in fact following American weaponry decisions in lock step.

  4. Blair is exceedingly avaricious, and is always complaining that he could make much more money outside of politics.

  5. Even the British aristocracy is embarrassed by what they see as Blair's excessive toadying to American interests.

  6. Due to his religious nature, the contradictions of being responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people are starting to weigh heavily on him.

Based on these points, how can we understand Blair? The extreme conservatism leads to a close personal relationship with the leaders of America (and his rolling back of progressive politics follows the American neocon program), and guides him towards military solutions to diplomatic problems. The fundamentalist Christianity leads to a feeling that a Christian man has a duty to save the people of Iraq from Saddam, coupled with an underlying hint of the Crusades. The war gives Blair an excellent chance to further the goal of effectively combining the British and American militaries into one fighting force (for the extremely important corresponding corporate ties of military contractors, see here), and also allows him to concretely express his love for all things American. The war will also eventually allow him to become rich after he retires from politics with nice directorships from American companies and military contractors. Blair has been able to continue to stay in power due to the fact that the Labour Party is afraid that his talking like a progressive while acting like Thatcher is what allowed them to obtain power, and their greed to stay in power means he gets to keep his job. The Conservatives, who represent the old-fashioned bourgeoisie, are also in favor of war, and the aristocracy, while still having a lot of power, has no leverage on Blair on this issue (and are conflicted because of their investments). Blair is looking increasingly haggard as he comes to the realization that he is going to Hell for what he is doing.