Monday, 16 June 2014

I'd have done exactly the same thing, but much better

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson takes more than a thousand words to explain why Tony Blair is 'mad', 'unhinged' and 'bonkers' to claim that the 2003 war had nothing to do with the current sectarian bloodbath in Iraq.

The Mash needs far fewer words to let the hot air out of the mayor 'Tony Blair is off his nut, according to people who thought the invasion of Iraq was a brilliant idea.'

Of course the Mash isn't being entirely fair, as Johnson's point is slightly more nuanced than that (but only very slightly). He may have said this in 2003:
I supported, and support, the second Gulf war on a strictly utilitarian calculation. The world is better for removing Saddam from power than keeping him there and allowing the Iraqis to suffer another 12 years of tyranny and economic sanctions.
but he now makes it clear that, although he supported the general idea of a war, he thought that the war had been badly managed:
That is the truth, and it is time Tony Blair accepted it. When we voted for that war – and I did, too – we did so with what now looks like the hopelessly naive assumption that the British and American governments had a plan for the aftermath; that there was a government waiting in the wings; that civic institutions would be preserved and carried on in the post-Saddam era. 

In other words, I wanted to get rid of Saddam, and I fondly imagined that there would be a plan for the transition...
Personally, I don't find the extra nuance very reassuring, because it sums up everything that's most depressing about politics these days. I used to have this hopelessly naive assumption that in a democracy, you had a choice between different parties and candidates, with different policies and you occasionally got to choose between different ways of doing things at the ballot box.

Johnson's attack on Blair is a bog-standard example of what what we mostly get instead of such political choice - a broad political consensus around whatever is currently deemed the only politically acceptable course of action, with a lot of noisy bitching and squabbling about which side is most competent to manage, tweak and deliver the agreed vision. Whatever the issue, there seems to be too much heated discussion about which side has the logistics capability to get us moving further and faster, with no pause to look at any reality checkpoint along the way, or to think about whether better alternative routes might exist, or to ask whether we might be moving in completely the wrong direction.

In short, it sometimes feels as if everything that's worth discussing is off the political agenda to make way for ever more celebrity gossip about rumoured spats between the various member of One Direction.