ex-Python on the audacious courage of Tony Blair
John M Cox
coxj at email.unc.edu
Mon Sep 23 10:36:19 MDT 2002
Words of wisdom and sanity can often be found in the strangest places,
such as from the Monty Python's former director and lead performer.
The audacious courage of Mr. Blair
You cannot help but admire the Prime Minister's steadfast refusal to be
intimidated by facts and figures, says ex-Python Terry Jones.
Sunday, September 22, 2002
I would like to pay a tribute to the courage of Tony Blair. During these
dark days in the build-up to war against Iraq it is reassuring to find
ourselves with a leader who demonstrates such fearlessness in the face
of tremendous odds.
Despite bitter opposition, Tony Blair has demonstrated that he will push
ahead stalwartly with whatever the US intends to do. Even though the
majority of his fellow countrymen are against the war (despite last
week's propaganda campaign in the media), Mr. Blair has shown not the
slightest sign of wavering from his determination to do whatever Mr.
Bush wants. It is true that he has regrettably had to cave in over the
question of debating the issue in Parliament, but he has fearlessly
shown his contempt for the process by not allowing a vote. Mr. Blair
realises that he needs all the nerve he can command to resist demands
for democratic discussion, if Mr. Bush is to have any opportunity of
dropping bombs on Iraq before the mid-term elections.
I would like to say a special word about another side of Tony Blair's
courage - his moral courage. Tony Blair has the guts to stand on
platform after platform repeating the words of the President of the
United States even though he must be well aware that in so doing he
makes himself a laughing stock to the rest of the world. Tony Blair has
the balls not to be influenced by the knowledge that people imagine he
is the US President's parrot and that his knee jerks only when George W.
pulls the strings. It must take a very special kind of stamina to
withstand that sort of daily humiliation. It is time we gave Mr. Blair
credit for it.
Tony Blair's dedication to carrying out the policies of the White House
proves time and again that he has the courage of their convictions. He
is prepared to back Mr. Bush's arguments to the hilt even when they are
palpably nonsensical. When Mr. Bush cites Saddam Hussein's contempt for
UN Security Council resolutions as the justification for his own
determination to do the same, Tony Blair urges the President's case, for
all the world as if he couldn't see the ridiculousness of it. When Mr.
Bush cites Iraq's failure to comply with UN Security Council resolutions
as the reason for going to war, Mr. Blair backs him up, boldly ignoring
the fact that Turkey and Israel have got away with ignoring UN
resolutions for years.
It is this refusal to be intimidated by the illogicality of the US
position that perhaps displays Mr. Blair's courage at its best. He is
Mr. Bush's faithful echo when the President demands that Saddam Hussein
immediately cleanse Iraq of all terrorist organisations, even though he
knows the UK never found a way of eradicating the IRA, and that, in any
case, the terrorist organisations that perpetrated 9/11 were operating
out of the US and Germany.
Mr. Blair also refuses to be unnerved by the irony of Saddam's chemical
weapons being anathematised by the nation that employed Agent Orange so
liberally in Vietnam, where the ravages are still apparent. Mr. Blair is
unafraid to support a 'War on Terrorism' waged by the nation that has
routinely used terrorism as a tool of foreign policy in Chile, Colombia,
Nicaragua and Cuba, to name but a few.
But my admiration for Mr. Blair's courage reaches new depths when I
consider what he has to wrestle with over the matter of the sanctions
against Iraq. As a practising Christian, he must need tremendous
fortitude to bear the knowledge that his policies are the certain cause
of death to so many Iraqi children. In 1996, the World Health
Organisation concluded that since the introduction of sanctions, the
infant mortality rate for children under five had increased six times.
In 1999, the Mortality Survey, supported by UNICEF, reported that infant
and child mortality in Iraq had doubled since the Gulf War.
In May 2000, a mission to Iraq sponsored by the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO) found that in South and Central Iraq at
least 800,000 children under five were suffering from chronic
Despite the fact that George W. Bush's father claimed that the United
States had no quarrel with the Iraqi people, it is the Iraqi people whom
he and his successors have determined to punish, and Tony Blair, to do
him justice, has not flinched from following their lead.
The Gulf War witnessed one of history's heaviest bombing campaigns, a
43-day bomb-fest, largely by units of the US Air Force, left something
in the region of $170 billion-worth of damage. The subsequent
enforcement of sanctions has meant that much of that damage has never
been repaired, and it is the lack of safe water, housing, food and
medicine that is exacting the greatest toll among children and the
It is therefore very much to Tony Blair's credit that he refuses to be
intimidated by these statistics. He has had the grit to stick by those
US policies which target the most vulnerable sections of Iraqi society,
and he has courageously ignored the logic that sanctions aimed at a
civilian population in order to oust a dictator who cares little for his
people are pointless.
It is a bold and audacious stance that our leader has taken up and it is
clear that nothing will move Mr. Blair from that posture - not
democracy, common sense, compassion nor shame.
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