Winter is Over

I had a little taste of winter the first day I came back from Monaco. No more. Not only is there no snow in sight and the temperature is high enough that I can walk around with only one thin long-sleeved T-shirt, but also Bush is apparently convinced that climate change is a real problem.

[Link] George Bush is preparing to make a historic shift in his position on global warming when he makes his State of the Union speech later this month, say senior officials at the office of the British Prime Minister in London.

Tony Blair hopes that the new stance by the United States will lead to a breakthrough in international talks on climate change and that the outlines of a successor treaty to the Kyoto agreement, the deal to curb emissions of greenhouse gases which expires in 2012, could now be thrashed out at the G8 summit in June.

The timetable may explain why Mr. Blair is so keen to remain in office until after the summit, with a deal on protecting the planet offering an appealing legacy with which to bow out of Number 10 Downing Street.

A lot of people seem to be under the mistaken assumption that because Blair doesn’t stand up to American foreign policy, he must be a Republican. In fact, his politics is very much Democratic: he’s been trying to get the US to see the light on Kyoto for years, he instituted Britain’s first minimum wage law, his approach to crime is fairly Clintonian, and he’s more pro-gay than most Democrats.

He’s an anti-civil liberties messianic neoconservative for sure, but that hardly distinguishes him from people like Clinton. If it were up to Blair, the Iraq War would’ve been run with a Clintonian finesse that would’ve been just as disastrous for the Iraqis but far less so for American political capital.

6 Responses to Winter is Over

  1. Axel says:

    Hmmm, a very unorthodox evaluation of Blair. Can you give me some practical examples (political initiatives, adopted laws or something else) that “he’s an anti-civil liberties messianic neoconservative for sure”?

  2. Alon Levy says:

    Identity cards, surveillance cameras, police brutality, Blair’s unusually high level of religiosity, and his rhetoric about the War on Iraq being The Good Fight.

  3. Axel says:

    And that’s “neoconservative”?

  4. Alon Levy says:

    Talking about the Iraq War in religious terms is pretty neoconish. I know he’s no Donald Rumsfeld, but he’s no Seymour Hersh, either.

  5. I would agree with Alon here. Thinking of the Iraq war, or mid-east geopolitics in general, in such Manichean terms is a trait of the neocons. Blair is neocon-ish in that regard, but then again you can probably say the same about America’s own Michael Kinsley and Peter Beinart.

  6. Axel says:

    Interesting. I only heard once and years after the Iraq invasion about Blair’s religious belief in combination with the Iraq war. See http://tinyurl.com/ywzfb3 and http://tinyurl.com/qt8po

    But there are no hints about whether he formerly or ever talked about the Iraq War in religious terms and Wikipedia also has no other references. I got the impression that this statement was more or less an excentric and absolutely private aspect of his character. As the Telegraph wrote: “Although Mr Blair is a regular churchgoer, he has been reluctant to talk about religion and politics because of his fear of being portrayed as the same sort of evangelical Christian as President Bush.” During the hot debates in the pre-war time I can’t remember of any religious statements but only the argument of an imminent military threat. So I don’t think that elements of neocon ideology were relevant for his decision. His main motivation, that’s my opinion, was the strategic role and the political importance of the UK in the future, especially close relationships with the US. Maybe I’m totally wrong but I don’t see the implementation of neocon ideas during his government.

    The typical reaction in the UK, if I remember right, was that Blair’s “confession” is vulgar and tasteless. Going around in public and making a big deal of one’s religious beliefs is generally seen in Western Europe as bizarre and if it’s just a politican the alarm bells normally begin to ring… Note that 82 percent of the Brits agree that religion does more harm than good and that it’s a cause of division and tension:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1978045,00.html

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