By: Latif Yahia
Having heard the news on the 13th of September that Tony Blair was receiving the Liberty Medal for his “Critical role in advancing peace in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and his steadfast commitment to conflict resolution” I sat back in my chair and wondered whether I had fallen into a parallel universe.
Actually, to be very honest it is not the first time that I have visited this parallel universe. I visit it every time a world leader/politician who while in office, used force against another sovereign state and once out of office decided to ‘work for peace’ and was given medals or awards for it!
Now of course Tony Blair did do some good and nice things while he was in office, but for me it will always be overshadowed by his decision to follow Bush into Iraq. There are a lot of things that I could say about the decisions taken, but I think that the hardest part for me to accept Blair’s reasons for going in, was his strong belief that Saddam was a threat and he needed to be removed for ‘stability’ in the region. Saddam never threatened the UK and indeed it was proven then and is repeatedly proven to this day that even if he did have the desire, he certainly did not have the capability.
I don’t think that anyone would or could say that Iraq or the middle east is a more stable region now either, in fact the opposite is true, Iran now rules Iraq. This is shown by the fact that Noori Al-Maliki (Iranian backed Shia) refuses doggedly to hand over the reigns of power to his successor Aiyad Alawi (backed by US and UK), whom I might add was DEMOCRATICALLY elected, something that was also purportedly a very important reason for deposing Saddam.
Mr. Blair now gives motivational speeches on tolerance between faiths, works towards improving governance in Africa and Brokers peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Noble causes indeed, but would it not have been better for Mr. Blair to lead by example while in office?
Since Tony Blair left not only Downing street but government he has made many changes, he converted to Catholicism, he is donating the proceeds from his book sales to the British Legion, he formed the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and has become a Peace Ambassador, is he fulfilling lifelong dreams or trying to atone for many of the decisions he made in the past ten years?
What I also found amusing and ironic was that Bill Clinton presented this award to Tony, now for those of you that don’t know, Mr. Clinton had a daily bombing campaign, yes, each day or every other day, from 1993 until he/Monica finished his time in office he would drop bombs on Iraq and he also imposed the ‘no fly zone’. Some might also say that Bill paved the way for Bush’s invasion when he had the ‘Iraqi Freedom’ law passed in Congress in 1998. But now Bill also works for Peace.So here we have Bill who used to just bomb Iraq giving the Liberty Medal to Tony who went one better and actually invaded it! It makes you wonder what award they have ready for George W. Bush? A Nobel Peace Prize? Maybe not, seemingly seven of the recipients of the Liberty Medal have gone on to receive a Nobel Prize, Tony may have that one in the bag too.
Politics is a dirty sticky business, those who want the power do what it takes, whatever that happens to be at the time, but when their time is over, see the error of their ways and spend the rest of their lives trying to make amends and give their friends jobs helping them to make amends. Why don’t we find a way to stop this cycle? Why is it that leaders have to do it this way? Can they not just ‘do good’ for their people from the start? Or is it that what is good and right is not what is profitable or powerful? Are they really our leaders or is someone else pulling the strings?