Recent events have given us a rather unsettling glimpse of the world according to Bush and Blair.
First of all, Blair really is the pathetic lapdog that we had long suspected. At a recent summit, Bush greeted him "Yo Blair", to which our beloved leader apparently replied with some incoherent bumbling like a poor man´s Hugh Grant. Then of course there is Blair´s telling statement regarding the difference between himself and Condi Rice "See, if she goes out she's got to succeed as it were, where as I can just go out and talk." Right.
Dr Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury) accused Mr Blair of being out of touch with public opinion on Lebanon and a recent Guardian poll supported this conclusion in finding that 70% of respondents thought that Blair was too closely allied to the US and only 22% consider Israel´s actions the be acceptable. Of course, Blair is not overly bothered about public opinion as long as he is in George's good books.
In response Blair noted "What is occurring in Lebanon at the present time is a catastrophe. Anybody with any sense of humanity wants what is happening to stop and stop now, But if it is to stop, it must stop on both sides." Which of course would explain why we are applying pressure to both sides - oh, that´s right we are not. In fact, the UK is supporting the military action by Israel by stealth whether we are prepared to admit it or not.
The Foreign Office's human rights report states quite clearly "The UK opposes the Israeli policy of targeted killings, which are illegal under international law" and yet the government authorised £22.5m of arms sales to Israel in 2005, almost double that of the year before. This prompted Sir Menzies Campbell (Liberal Democrats) to suggest that "The government must now comply with its own arms export rules and institute an immediate suspension of all UK arms exports to Israel."
Furthermore, we are making absolutely no comment on the fact that Israel has intentionally targeted the country´s infrastructure and residential areas (in a blatant breach of the Geneva Convention), and has been accused of using banned phosphorus bombs on densely populated civilian areas. Israel has not denied any of this, and will never be held to account for it. Foreign Office envoy Kim Howells noted "I very much hope that the Americans understand what is happening in Lebanon. The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people. These have not been surgical strikes." meanwhile Jan Egeland (the UN emergency relief coordinator) called the bombings "a violation of humanitarian law".
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert today stated "We are aware of the state of humanitarian affairs of the population of Lebanon as a result of the brutality of Hizbullah....I think I can say in complete sincerity that Lebanon and Israel are both victims of this brutal, terrorist, murderous organisation." Apparently he has not noticed any of the damage done by his own army.
We can all rest easy, though. Bush knows how to handle the situation. "See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it´s over." Who "they" are and how they are supposed to get Syria to stop Hezbollah from "doing this shit" is not clear. What is clear is that he feels that the Lebanese have brought this situation on themselves and have created a problem out of nothing by insisting on voting for the wrong people.
This is in stark contrast to Bush´s statement in 2005, "any who doubt the appeal of freedom in the Middle East can look to Lebanon, where the Lebanese people are demanding a free and independent nation. In the words of one Lebanese observer, "Democracy is knocking at the door of this country and, if it´s successful in Lebanon, it is going to ring the doors of every Arab regime."
Well your success story is presently being bombed by your ally because their government has not been able to crush one of their own democratically elected parties. Hezbollah is one of the main political parties representing the Shia community, Lebanon´s largest religious grouping. Whatever Israel and the US think, Hezbollah is highly regarded as a legitimate resistance movement by many in the middle east. Particularly as it was Hezbollah who forced the Israeli´s to retreat when they illegaly occupied South Lebanon and Beirut between 1982 and 2000 (we were not interested in helping them then either). In the 2005 elections they held 23 seats (up from 8 in the previous election).
The sad fact is that Bush is not promoting democracy in any way. He is promoting the use of force as a way to solve the problem - again. Rice has confirmed that any agreement to end the fighting would have to be based on a long-term solution to the threat posed by Hezbollah. So peace will come when Hezbollah ceases to exist. Israel is wealthy, well stocked with arms bought from the US and the UK and protected from any legal repercussions by the US (who consistently veto any resolution which criticises them). Presumably Israel hopes that if they can destroy the country´s infrastructure and kill a large enough number of the muslim population, the problem will melt away. The opposite is the truth.
The UN is launching an emergency appeal to raise £81m to help the estimated 800,000 civilians whose lives have been ruined by Israel´s latest attack on Lebanon. That´s 800,000 people with fresh reasons to hate Israel, the US and the UK. Another good day for democracy.
Further pictures can be found at flickr.com but be warned, some are extremely distressing