By Lee Russ, Section OpEd
Here's what Tony Blair said in a speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet:
However, most crucial is this. Just as it is, in significant part, forces outside Iraq that are trying to create mayhem inside Iraq, so we have to have a strategy that pins them back, not only in Iraq but outside it too.
Now you might consider the idea that we need to engage the entire region to be calling for a change in policy, strategy, something, given that the U.S. policy/strategy/something to date has been to focus solely on Iraq, while insulting most of the surrounding countries and refusing to speak to them on the grounds that they are supporting terrorists.
Similarly, you might consider Blair's idea that the repair work in Iraq really requires that there be some resolution of the Israel-Palestine gridlock to be different in some qualitative way from the Bush White House policy of ignoring that gridlock to the extent possible while pouring men, munitions, money, and hyperbolic propaganda directly into the pit of Iraq.
If you thought either of those two things, the White House says you would be wrong. In a posting titled "Comparing the Coverage: London Vs. Washington Reporting on Prime Minister Blair's Remarks," which appeared on the White House web site the next day, the White House claimed "Prime Minister Blair's Policy Is Not New And Is Similar To President Bush's Policy." The basis for this claim? The site offers these two headlines (with minimal accompanying text to support them) to show the similarity of the Blair and Bush positions:
No where does the White House posting even bother to deal with the idea that Blair is talking about getting "the whole of the region" involved, not just Iran. Maybe the White House doesn't know that, in addition to Iran and Syria, the "whole region" includes, at a minimum: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Territory, and Turkey.
Any odds on whether the White House would have seen any difference in the thoughts of Blair and Bush if Blair had said something causing a major stink?
And yet, I now have so poor an opinion of this White House that I'm not even certain that their denial of Blair having said anything new or different than Bush is the PR it appears to be. I now at least consider the possibility that no one in this White House is sufficiently capable of logic and reason to be able to adequately analyze Blair's comments and compare them to their own comments and policies.
Now that's optimism: maybe they're too incompetent to be the hype & sleaze merchants they appear to be.
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Related Links+ speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet:
+ White House web site
+ More on Republicons
+ Also by Lee Russ