A journal of political, social, and other important, possibly even somewhat related affairs, including but not limited to: Central European Society, The European Union, HC Kometa Brno, American Politics, Film, and Beer.

11 May 2007

Tony Blair

As the BBC (and every news agency not run by eels) reports, the British Prime Minister, Anthony Blair, has decided to resign. They pointed out that he was the first to pick his departure date. In this respect, he has imitated the tradition more of the American Presidency, as opposed to the usual British way of the house usually burning down around the PM.

Blair leaves with a UK more European and more conflicted with official Europe; the UK is further to the left, if only slightly; his legacy includes his capitulation to the EU with respect to the CAP, and his defiance of the continent with respect to Iraq War.

Tony Blair signed the UK on to the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty (the UK was not a signatory to this in 1992, when the treaty was ratified); in the end, this will possibly be the most significant binding of the UK to the EU. He started out, as he put it himself, a Socialist. His domestic policy brought the "right" of additional maternity leave, and limited working hours. But New Labour was also productivist, and rejected the old labor-ownership adversarial relationship. Blair, like his philosophical soulmate Bill Clinton, were far more conservative (or liberal) in this respect than the continent. They stressed work, and in the Anglo-American tradition, they were unabashed believers in the rightness of liberalism.

The transformation of Tony Blair was completed, and his link with the transatlantic alliance cemented, with the bombing of Serbia. International law was secondary to humanitarian necessity in the case of Serbia. For Blair, insofar as international law should serve humanitarianism, international law was merely a scaffold for what needed to be done. If humanitarian goals were apparent, and international law was unclear, than international law was the obvious failure.

Later, a new American President, George W. Bush, drew on this tradition (which is far older than either the current President or the Prime Minister) and worked to facilitate democratic liberalism in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was merely a continuation of the values Blair, Bush, and Clinton espoused at home. Blair was at his best when he described the Iraq War in humanitarian terms; it was not just about WMDs; it was about the freeing of individual human beings that Blair sought as his legacy.

We can disagree whether or not Mr. Blair's idea of freedom, with its proclivities toward communitarianism, was perfect. Nevertheless, in the crucible of Serbian nationalism and radical Islam, Anthony Blair stood on the side of breathing the air of freedom, and capping the smokestacks of totalitarianism. For this, he succeeded as Prime Minister. The Union Jack waves as a prouder standard for his efforts.


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