Tony’s finally lost it

Tony Blair

After so many years of compromise, expedient lies and unchecked arrogance, Tony Blair seems to have utterly cracked in the wake of extremist Muslim terrorism landing, inevitably, on his doorstep. He hasn’t cracked in the theatrical way that we usually associate with going insane (that might affect his polls). But if we take a moment to feel our way into his mental processes (wearing very thick gloves of course), we can sense the frighteningly hermetic isolation of individual psyche from collective reality that speaks of schizophrenia’s catastrophic split.

Public discussion on the crucial issues here is crippled, as ever, by basic logical errors. We conflate the condoning of terrorism with understanding terrorism. As anyone will agree (in any other context), understanding a problem is pretty much a prerequisite to solving it; therefore, in this simple, scared way of thinking, our fear of capitulation to the forces of barbarism instantly scuppers any chance of moving past this dark phase of history.

Keenly aware of his tottering reputation as Iraqi civilian bodies pile up, with the glaring absence of Hussein’s WMD’s as a damning backdrop, Blair has refused the opportunity for sanity and rationality. As British civilian blood is spilt, on British soil, perhaps people’s sympathy with what is occurring in Iraq (and elsewhere) peaks. Now would have been the time to take stock, to come clean, to appeal for hard-nosed analysis and comprehension of the situation we’re in.

Instead:

Of course these terrorists will use Iraq as an excuse, they will use Afghanistan. September 11 of course happened before both of those things, and then the excuse was American policy, or Israel. They will always have their reasons for acting, but we have got to be really careful of almost giving into the sort of perverted and twisted logic with which they argue. […] And you know there is a kind of insidious way of the way that this is looked at where people say yes we entirely abhor the methods of these terrorists, but nonetheless we sort of understand what they are saying about American foreign policy, or Iraq, or Afghanistan or Palestine. No, let us be absolutely clear about this, the legitimate voice of Afghanistan is the man beside me who was elected, not al Queda or the Taliban. The legitimate voice of Iraq is the Prime Minister who was appointed after a democratic election, it is not the Jihadists who are killing innocent people in Iraq. The legitimate voice of the Palestinians is Mahmoud Abbas, the President elected by the Palestinians, it is not terrorists. And therefore I think when people talk about the links between whether it is Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Palestine in what has happened, of course these people will use these things as an excuse, but let’s be absolutely clear, if it wasn’t that it would be something else, and nothing, but nothing, justifies what they are doing.

Press conference with Tony Blair and Hamid Karzai, 19 July 2005

So basically, these terrorist guys are just doing it because they’re “evil”, and they use various conflicts involving Muslims around the world as an excuse to get their nefarious kicks blowing people up. Don’t you understand? Even if the entire history of the Christian West’s relations to Islam had been one big jovial knees-up, these guys would be killing themselves and dozens of others in the name of the oppression of squirrels, or something.

Note Blair’s final point: “nothing justifies what they are doing”. Justification and comprehension are conflated, and any attempt at either is booted out the door with a tone of condemnation that no one dare argue with. He even tries to rationally take apart the “we don’t condone them, but I can see where they’re coming from” perspective. But any pretence at rationality is washed away in a tide of bland, forceful democratic rhetoric. The underlying attitude is: “Now no-one can criticise our foreign policy, because some people who claim to be its opponents are vicious bastards.”

In claiming no connection between the London bombings and Iraq, Blair has chronically deepened the hole he’s been digging for himself. Pointing out that 9/11 happened before Afghanistan and Iraq is nonsensical, reducing terrorism to some simplistic reaction to single events. Of course the London bombings may well have happened if Blair hadn’t waded in with Bush to decimate the cradle of civilisation; but I don’t think doing so lightened these guys up. Also, how we should proceed from here in Iraq is a distinct question from, “Why did these bombings happen?”

What is this defensiveness that can’t separate these questions out? Blair should at least be up there saying, “OK, folks, we’re running about in the Middle East trying to convert this country to democracy by force, plunging this volatile area into bloody chaos. On top of our history there, I think it’s safe to say there’s going to be some mad bastards trying to lash out at us by blowing some of you to smithereens. I really don’t want you to get blown up, but I thought I’d warn you. You all voted me in so I assume you’re behind this Iraq thing and are prepared to face the consequences. Sleep tight.” But no, reality is too much to bear for Tony now. So, just as any opposition to oppressive, militaristic Zionism is conflated with anti-Semitism, anyone trying to place these “al Qaeda-style” attacks in their historical and global context is obviously trying to justify suicide attacks.

These terrorists, says the New World Order, aren’t historical, they have no context; they’re just evil, leaking into the world without connections to our real conflicts and international resentments. On such terms are holy wars fought. Bush and Blair’s crusade against jihadism is just the other side of the same coin. Christianity and Islam are reduced by our leaders, these hollow earth-denying capitalists with no vision of a viable future, and terrorists to their basest roots in human fear and rage. People will keep dying violent deaths until we truly divine the connections at work here.

You’ve studied philosophy; you know how much serious time is spent proving the reality of the external world. Imagine having to prove what every animal knows! You know that our main tradition says the world has no qualities whatsoever – no color, no taste, no texture, no temperature – and some of that tradition even denies its existence if we aren’t there to perceive it. Ascetic world denial, world destruction going on every day in our philosophy classes. Terrorism and nihilism are already in our Western worldview, so the terrorists are the incarnation of the nihilism inherent to our system of thinking.

James Hillman

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