Tony Blair will step down on June 27th, handing over the keys to Number 10 to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. It’s not a minute too soon for those who are convinced that he talked Britain and the United States into an unnecessary preemptive war. They are looking for someone to blame for what they see as a failed policy in Iraq, and Tony Blair is a convenient target.
History will be kinder to President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair than we realize. While we are still engaged in this war in Iraq, it is difficult to view the record of these two men through any other prism. Tony Blair will leave Number 10 with a record of achievement that cannot be matched by any previous Labour Prime Minister, and I hope that Gordon Brown intends to keep the US/UK alliance as strong as Blair made it during his time in office.
From a June 2003 speech before Congress:
That is what this struggle against terrorist groups or states is about. Were not fighting for domination. Were not fighting for an American world, though we want a world in which America is at ease. Were not fighting for Christianity, but against religious fanaticism of all kinds.
And this is not a war of civilizations, because each civilization has a unique capacity to enrich the stock of human heritage. We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind – black or white, Christian or not, left, right or a million different – to be free, free to raise a family in love and hope, free to earn a living and be rewarded by your efforts, free not to bend your knee to any man in fear, free to be you so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others. Thats what were fighting for. And its a battle worth fighting.
And I know its hard on America, and in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places Ive never been to, but always wanted to go. I know out there theres a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, Why me? And why us? And why America?
And the only answer is, Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.
And our job, my nation that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond, our job is to be there with you. You are not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. And if our spirit is right and our courage firm, the world will be with us.
The Economist has a good recap of the Blair years here. Will Gordon Brown be this kind of ally to America? Time will tell, but I’m not optimistic about that possibility.