This week Tony Blair was asked whether the SAS was carrying out covert reconnaissance operations in Iran, as US special forces are said to be doing. Tony replied:
'We never answer questions about special forces, but do not take that as indicating an affirmative.'
Some commentators said this obfuscating comment made Blair sound like a lawyer, which of course is what he's trained as. We beg to differ. It made him sound like a twat. That said, looking like a twat is preferable to looking like someone who has just said their final goodbye to reality. Blair also commented that George Bush now understood that 'the best prospect of peaceful co- existence lies in the spread of democracy and human rights'.
Anyone who thinks Bush has the well-being of the world's oppressed peoples foremost in his mind must have a very peculiar view of reality. It's like saying Hitler just wanted closer European integration - it's one way of interpreting things, but you have to ignore a lot of contradictory evidence.
George Bush may believe in democracy, but only democracy that's in the interests of the United States. Bush may also believe in human rights, but not when they conflict with the interests of the US. It's also pretty hard to believe that Bush is a great humanitarian after the US has reduced Iraq to anarchy, killing thousands of innocent people in the process and driving a dangerous wedge between the West and the Islamic world.
Blair's strange view of Bush makes you wonder what on earth is going on in his head. Maybe something like the Numskulls, but more chaotic.
On a personal level, Blair is genuinely difficult to fathom. We'd always suspected he was a bit strange, for many reasons. The Christianity. The Catholicism. The fib about spending the night on a park bench. That business with the pullover and the mug outside 10 Downing Street. The guitar, the naff fashions, sucking up to pop stars... the list just goes on and on. Who IS Tony Blair?
We can at least establish that there are things Blair most definitely is not:
- He is not stupid
- He is not evil
- He is not cool
However, there's a growing body of evidence that suggests he is either:
- A bit gormless
- Hopelessly optimistic
- Just plain bonkers
Consider the evidence for each of the above. Repeatedly, Blair has overseen policies which were hopelessly ill-judged, eg. the idea that the Iraq war would be a decisive military victory swiftly followed by peace. It smacks of gormlessness, of not having a basic level of innate common sense, like blokes who refuse to wear sun cream during a Mediterranean holiday then fall asleep in the sun and end up with heatstroke and life-threatening sunburn.
Or maybe Blair is just an optimist - he looks at all the possible outcomes of a situation but always fixates on the most positive, as he appears to have done with all sorts of initiatives, from PFI to on-the-spot fines. In many respects optimism is an admirable trait, but not when you endanger yourself and others, eg. 'Come on, kids! It can't take that long to get to the top of Snowdonia! Oh don't worry about the weather forecast - they're usually wrong etc.
Or maybe Blair is just bonkers. This would actually makes sense of many of Blair's traits - the contradictory policies, the weird ideas, the odd behaviour. If one day Blair appeared on TV wearing a tin-foil hat, eating one of his own turds and claiming alien lizards were controlling the weather, we'd probably just sigh and say 'Well, THAT explains a lot...'
But on balance of probability we'd have to say that Blair is hopelessly - even dangerously - optimistic. The clincher is the recent news that New Labour plans 'citizenship' ceremonies for young adults.
Blair undoubtedly has some pie-in-the-sky vision of a Britain where we all become responsible citizens (possibly 'stakeholders') in a modern, tolerant, enlightened UK. But in reality the notion of citizenship is too vague to really mean anything, and unless you're a hopeless optimist, citizenship ceremonies won't be anything other than a huge waste of time and money.
Still, at least citizenship ceremonies are pretty harmless. Which is more than can be said for believing that George Bush is a crusader for democracy and human rights. And if Blair really does believe that, then maybe Andy McNab is hiding in a wadi in the deserts of Iran even as you read this.