As we enter Day whatever-it-is (sorry, lost count) of the war between Israel and Hizb’Allah, the ongoing suffering of the British chattering classes shows no sign whatsoever of easing up. In fact, and according to reliable eyewitness reports, Israeli attacks on Lebanon have led to the intellectual and moral displacement of tens of thousands of innocent journalists, politicians and media types, all of them old women, and who now have nowhere to go.
But I suppose that that is only to be expected given the Uberissue media status of the current war in the Levant. So dominant is coverage of unfolding events and so extenstive is the (usually wrong) analysis that even news of impending all-out, balls-out civil war in Iraq has been relegated to the ‘and-now-for-the-rest-of-the-news’ section.
However, I have noticed what appears to be a slight change of emphasis. Amid the dwindling number of pro-forma demands for ‘proportionality’ (as if flogging that dead horse for long enough will cause it to reincarnate), the blanket indignation at what Israel is doing is morphing into a sense of grievous effrontery over what Tony Blair is not doing, i.e. he is not caling for am immediate ceasefire. Some talking-head or other on Newsnight this evening even when as far as to suggest that Tony Blair’s lamentable failure in this regard was the cause of the continued strife.
But what if Mr. Blair was to oblige his critics and duly demand a ceasefire? Would the warring parties, upon hearing the plaintiff Voice of Blair wafting in on the Mediterranean breezes, forthwith end their hostilities? Would the Katushya rockets fall silent? Would the Israeli armoured divisions gratefully slam their gears into reverse and head, teary-eyed, back to Israel? Will the lion lie down with the lamb, the Hobbit embrace the Orc and so on and so forth? Well, no, and not even the most woodenheaded of the Ceasefiristas imagine that any of that would happen.
And if Mr. Blair were, indeed, to succumb to these demands (which seem to mostly emanate from his own party backbenches) what then? Nobody seems to know. But then, nothing need follow because calls for ceasefire are not really about saving lives in Lebanon, Israel or anywhere else. Nor are they about solving the problems or establishing peace. They are really about adopting the right posture that, in turn, absolves the posturer from having to make any difficult or embarrassing decisions. In short, it is a respectable cop-out.
The incessant, prating ceasefire demands have little to do with either the Middle East conflict or, indeed, any other conflict and are much more to do with internal politics. The pressure on Mr. Blair is not really to put a stop to the fighting because everyone really knows that he cannot do any such thing. Rather it is pressure on Blair to toe his party line, mollify his backbenchers and let everyone off the moral hook.
So does this mean I get a sick kick out of watchiing the continued bloodshed? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. I, too, would like to see an end to the war as soon as possible but, as balanced against that, I would like to see an end to Hizb’Allah even sooner. Call me callous if you will but I would rather risk being seen as callous than offer myself up as a fashionably useless poseur.