Hiding behind America
Blair had the courage to confront terrorism and not fear it, though he got it wholly wrong on Iraq
May 15, 2007
Tony Blair, the prime minister of Britain, just announced his departure from power. There is so much attention given to Britain and Blair as the head of government (the Queen is the head of state) though Britain is no longer a power in any sense whatsoever. About one and a half centuries ago British presence in the south and east of Iran was so significant they have even left the area with some strong linguistic legacy (many English words that are absent in northern parts of Iran) that can be found simply talking to the ordinary people of those areas even to this day.
Although neither the south of Iran nor the country as a whole were colonised by Britain, Iranian authorities were often unable to exert power over the British inside many of Iran's sovereign territories in the southern half of the country. Britain was feared. That was the whole issue. It was a power to be feared, and various rulers of Iran thought it cautious and rational to fear the mighty British for the sake of survival. Reza Shah (who was aided and supported by the British to gain power) later thought otherwise, and he got it so wrong, for himself.
The British Empire is now nothing like the lion it used to be. It is more just like a pussycat who may actually fear the Persian pussycat on occasion! One century ago it would have been unimaginable for Britain to tolerate the capture of its troops by Iran, even if the troops (sailors etc) would have been guilty of the most heinous crimes. Times have changed drastically. Britain is now used for public-relations at occasions by America to show that there are allies out there, and the British monarchy has accepted its new role as a serious tourist attraction.
This change also goes for Blair. Too many people in the world know who is the prime minister of Britain. The only motives are historical accidents; some sort of popular inertia, the English language, and the seat it holds at the UN Security Council. France is in a much worse situation and the accidental motives for France's fame and apparent importance in the world are exactly the same as for Britain (though the language being French, another historical legacy, though fading rapidly). Britain and British politicians are so insignificant in the world stage that they often actually acknowledge this themselves and accept the role of hiding behind the US, which is just a reality that does not show a lack of courage or character. These will, and need to, change by giving some seats at the UN Security Council to today's truly important countries in the world stage such as Japan, India, Germany and others.
For now the British prime minister can enjoy a worldwide fame that is undeserving, and also a part of this article to be dedicated to him.
Blair's (Britain's) affair in Iraq has also been exaggerated, like almost anything else that are important in the world stage and are attributed to the UK or France. British deployment in Iraq has been nothing but symbolic, a last ditch effort by Blair to show to America that Britain is begging for some attention, protection, and even probably more tourists or investments! But there was also some matter of principle involved. Blair had the courage to confront terrorism and not fear it, though he got it wholly wrong on Iraq. That was not something related to terrorism. And one possible price has been the terrorist attack Britain suffered, however no-one can know for sure whether the attacks would not have taken place if Britain had not participated in Iraq. The other price has been the loss of public sympathy he had so long enjoyed.
Maybe, God willing, one day Iranians will also have elected parties and leaders who would actually dare to take actions that would be potentially damaging for their own short-term careers but potentially good for their country. And it would be absolutely fine if leaders would get it wrong time to time, as did Blair. That is a price perfectly in line, and worth taking the risk of having an imperfect democracy in which leaders may get it wrong as well. Comment