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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

It’s the WMDs, stupid!

I bet I know what Tony Blair dreams about at night. I’ll bet that while he is tossing, turning and crying out in his sleep, his dreams transport him to the dusty, fetid alleyways of Baghdad. There, he strides forth like a grand, confident colossus surrounded by a squadron of husky, shaven-headed Royal Marines. Gaggles of excited Iraqi children bay and yap around the fringes of this entourage, hoping that the Great White Leader From Across the Seas will stoop to confer some benediction on their tiny heads. But he cannot stop. He is too busy. He is too single-minded. He knows what he wants and he is determined to find it. All other priorities are rescinded and greeting the thronged masses of downtown Baghdad will have to wait.

Suddenly, through the whirls of settling dust, he spots it. A big warehouse miraculously untouched by Cruise missiles or JDAMs. He points. “There” he says, “that’s where they are”. Tony and his bodyguards break into a trot and then a run as they draw near to the entrance of the warehouse. One of the squaddies produces a bolt-cutter and snips off the padlock with a flourish. The great doors are swung wide open and, inside, gleaming and shimmering with pointy Ba’athist menace is a phalanx of stonking, great missiles, each one marked ‘London’, ‘Manchester’, Birmingham’, Leeds etc.

“I was right, I was right” yells Tony triumphantly. “I told them so. I told them Hussein had WMDs and they didn’t believe me. Well I’m going to make them eat their weasel-words. I’m going to shove it right up ’em and show ’em whose boss and….. …and then he wakes up, sweaty and delirious. The ochre light of another smoggy London dawn is breaking through the cracks in his curtains. The dream is over for another night, but the nightmare just goes on:

Tony Blair’s denial that he exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons is called into question today by fresh accusations that Downing Street distorted a second Iraq dossier.

There is no underestimating the seriousness of this for Mr.Blair. The press pack is at his throat, his ‘old’ Labour colleagues have their daggers drawn and even the Conservatives have flickered back into animation with a non-stop barrage of awkward questions in parliament (complete opportunism on their part of course but Blair would be doing exactly the same thing if he was in their shoes and, besides, party politics is a dirty, rotten business).

As long as the British and American teams scouring Iraq are unable to turn up anything more ominous than a can of Raid, Blair is very vulnerable. I don’t think he lied to take us into a war, but it is starting to look as if he lied to take us into a war and, for politicians, perceptions are everything.

This doesn’t just look bad it has also come at a bad time. There is a vast undercurrent of hitherto unfocussed discontent is this country about rising crime, asylum-seekers, failing state schools, crumbling state hospitals and, lest we forget, the pending EU constitution. Britain is a land of incoherent complaints and grumbles that could easily amalgamate and find focus on the issue of Iraq’s WMDs (or lack thereof). Even the famously indifferent Brits are unlikely to forgive or forget a fabricated cassus beli.

Now, contrary to what some are saying (and I note that Stephen Pollard is already hammering the nails into Blair’s political coffin) I don’t think Blair will necessarily be undone by this. The problem is serious but he has the advantage that all of his opponents are ugly, unelectable, incompetent or a melancholy combination of all three. Blair may yet possess the political smarts to sidestep the lot of them.

Be that as it may, the really interesting thing is that, regardless of whether or not Mr.Blair stays in No.10, his stock is down and is unlikely to rise again. The Iraq war gave him no ‘khaki kick’ whatsoever, despite the impressive performance of our armed forces and the relatively low casualty figure. In fact, it only seems to have reinforced the impression with a jaded public that he is strutting, grand-standing egotist who promises much but delivers little. Regardless of whether or not Iraqi WMDs are eventually unearthed, Blair’s image has been tarnished and torn and, from hereon in, he is damaged goods.

But that must be juxtaposed with an article I came across a few days ago (cannot find link now, sorry) to the effect that, in the USA, Blair is held in even higher regard than George Bush. Perhaps Mr.Blair’s next recurring dream will involve the arrival of a gilt-edged invitation from the Democrat National Committee?

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21 comments to It’s the WMDs, stupid!

  • Man, some of the people over here who hate Bush LOVE Blair. My mother, for instance. Blair can do no wrong. If Bush is seen as a moronic war-monger by some, Blair is seen as a brilliant, steadfast humanitarian.

    On the other hand, some of the people over here who voted for Bush and still support him ALSO love Blair, for his consistent hawkishness and unfailing support as a US ally.

  • Tony Blair probably doesn’t dream about finding WMDs. Because if he did find them, and presented them, the letters page of The Guardian would be full of correspondents saying “Of course he found them – we sold them to him”. And we’d have to have an enquiry into where they came from.

    And if the WMDs were found to have originated in Russia, and not Britain or the US, The Guardian would say “Ah, but what about us dropping cluster bombs? They are WMDs as they kill innocent women and children.” And we’d have another enquiry which would show that we did not drop cluster bombs unnecessarily.

    And then The Guardian would write “Ah, but what about the war crimes allegations…”

    You get the picture. Blair will be fighting a losing battle here. No matter what he does, the Left will scream for more. So he is avoiding this by sticking two fingers up and saying “I deny it all. Screw you. Next subject, please.” It’s a damned risky tactic, but it may yet pay off for him.

  • Liberty Belle

    Tim Newman writes: ‘It’s a damned risky tactic, but it may yet pay off for him.’ … Not while Clare Short and Robin Cooke are breathing.

  • Jacob

    David,
    Are you sorry or are you content that Blair is in trouble ? Would the downfall of Blair be desirable ?
    Of course, the downfall of any politician is desirable but aren’t you afraid that the alternative (which doesn’t seem to exist at this moment) might be worse?

  • Clio

    Jacob,

    Whatever can you mean, “of course the downfall of any politician is desirable”? Are you a libertarian or a card-carrying nihilist?

    Rather like David I have a vision (ala Monty Python) of the heavens opening and a beam of golden light descending upon Tony Blair’s head, declaring him the chosen representative of God on Earth, whereupon the entire House of Commons hoots and jeers, throws eggs and vegetables at him, and moves to burn him at the stake for bringing his bloody faith into public view again.

    I’m sorry Tony, but it may be time to ride off into the sunset, write your memoirs and wait your turn to be called on as a wise elder statesman. I give the Labour Party about 2 years before it begs him to return.

  • Jacob

    What I mean is that destruction is part of the process of evolution, that enables progress and the betterment of the human race. So it’s a good thing if an incumbent that we are not especially happy about steps down and is replaced.

    “I’m sorry Tony, but it may be time to ride off into the sunset, write your memoirs and wait your turn to be called on as a wise elder statesman… ”
    Yeah, … to rewrite the EU constitution…

    But really, I don’t see how this WMD bisuness brings Tony down. He isn’t such a clumsy politician, he will gain his footing.

  • Scott Cattanach

  • Mitch H.

    Unfortunately, the US constitution has this little subclause about the president having to have been born in the United States. It kind of sucks, because Blair would be a distinct improvement of the clutch of losers and lunatics currently afflicting my recently-adopted political party.

  • Eamon

    Here in Ulster, the paramilitaries on both sides have successfully hid great caches of arms for decades under the noses of a highly professional army in an area a tiny fraction of the size of Iraq with far greater population density. So the fact it may take a long time to find these things in Iraq is only a ‘surprise’ to people who are being disingenuous and have a very big axe to grind.

  • its jake

    I’d rather Blair stay in Britain so as to spare America the Mad EU disease.

  • T. Hartin

    I think its a little early to say that there are no WMDs in Iraq. For Chrissake, most of the people complaining about this probably can’t find their car keys in the morning.

    For that matter, the US government can’t prevent literally tons of banned substances from crossing our borders every year, and can’t prevent literally hundreds of acres of illegal plants from being grown in the US every year.

    The UK government can’t prevent thousands of illegal weapons from entering their island (!) and being used illegally every year.

    What is really entertaining is watching the quagmiristas try to rewrite history, and claim that everyone was expressing grave doubts before the war about whether there were any WMD in Iraq. That was, of course, a given at the time, and many quagmiristas were relying on Saddam’s WMD to make their case against the war – it would be too costly to attack a man with tons of germs and poison gas, doncha know.

  • dave fordwych

    It’s all nonsense,but it is destroying Blair’s credibility in a way that will make it more difficult for him to bounce the country into the new EU constitution,so for that at least we should give [cautious ] thanks.

  • T. Hartin

    Since Blair is (a) a competent politician who (b) is hellbent on getting Britain into the EU, it seems like anything that hurts him is likely to hurt the EUnification of Britain, and would therefore be a good thing.

    If Blair holds on but is diminished, then the EUniks will have had their champion diminished. If his replacement is not as competent as he is and wants to EUnify, then the EUniks will have lost on the exchange. If his replacement doesn’t want to EUnify, then the EUniks will have lost on the exchange.

    Either way, the EUniks lose! What’s not to like?

  • Nancy

    Good one, Scott.

  • Agreed.

    This follows the sad law of politics that liars seem to be able to get away with lies, yet eventually fall for getting something wrong where they may have acted quite reasonably in fact.

    But as T and dave say, whatever can reverse the EU fungus is to be cautiously welcomed.

  • T. Hartin: Either way, the EUniks lose! What’s not to like?

    Amen to that!

  • Alice Bachini

    I agree too, and I think this could be very good for the UK. Antiwar sentiment gets turned on Blair, thus undermining New Labour and everything else (ie the bad stuff) it stands for! Brilliant.

    Now all we need is a Tory party.

  • Jacob,

    Tony Blair wants to bind this country into EU federalism for no other reason than his overwheening personal ambitions. Yes, I desire his downfall.

  • Spot on Eamon. The logical question is why Saddam would have dismantled his weapons programs after 1998 when the weapons inspectors left. There is a lot of known material – biological and otherwise, unaccounted for.

    As for Tony Blair’s dreams… well, I don’t know what he dreams about with respect to WMDs. I know what I dream about tho…

    Robert Fisk being chased out of Tikrit, by an enraged mob of the family’s of Saddam’s victims, beating him with leaky cannisters of anthrax, smallpox and radioactive waste. Followed of course, by his incoherent article in the Independent, subtitled “I can’t figure out why these people were beating me, and why I am covered with painful pustulent sores and wracked with pain, but I’m betting it is the Americans’ fault.”

  • Andrew Duffin

    Eamon, not so spot on imho.

    I don’t actually believe the Army is really searching for arms in Northern Ireland.

    For one thing, to do so would upset our gallant allies (Feh!) in Sinn Feinn/IRA, and for another thing, if they found anything, Tony Blair would just tell them to cover it up again and not tell anyone.

    So it’s no wonder nothing has been found there.

    I have a theory as to why nothing’s been found in Iraq, but that is for another post…

  • Susan

    For Saddam WMDs were one of his many beloved hobbies, as were his torture chambers. He had a proven history of experimenting with, producing and using WMDs. He spent enormous amounts of money, time and human resources developing WMDs. I find the whole argument questioning the existance and potential threat of WMDs to be absurd. The world once again is ignoring the obvious, just like the world ignored the obvious brutality of Saddam’s regime for years. Overlooking the obvious, now that is stupid!