Sunday | July 13, 2003
Tony Blair: intervene anytime, anywhere
By Steve Gilliard
Blair seeks new powers to attack rogue states
Tony Blair is appealing to the heads of Western governments to agree a new world order that would justify the war in Iraq even if Saddam Hussein's elusive weapons of mass destruction are never found.
It would also give Western powers the authority to attack any other sovereign country whose ruler is judged to be inflicting unnecessary suffering on his own people.
A Downing Street document, circulated among foreign heads of state who are in London for a summit, has provoked a fierce row between Mr Blair and the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder.
The document echoes his well-known views on "rights and responsibilities" by saying that even for self-governing nation states "the right to sovereignty brings associated responsibilities to protect citizens".
This phrase is immediately followed by a paragraph which appears to give the world's democracies carte blanche to send troops anywhere there is civil unrest or a tyrant who refuses to mend his ways. It says: "Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect."
I read this before I went to bed, and was stunned by it.
The West cannot just overthrow bad governments. There are 70 dictators, are they all going to be deposed by force of arms? It sounds like the rantings of the unhinged. It sounds truly deranged. No one in the EU is going to back this scheme. It's irrational at best and insane at worst.
The only way to foster permanent democratic change is by internal democratic movements. The West can help them, and in extremis, intervene, but only in extremis, not because we dislike a ruler.
This clearly hints at a messianic aspect to Blair's personality. What worked in the Balkans and is not working in Iraq cannot be granted as a right of the West to make the world over in its image.
There is no internation responsibility to protect, except in Blair's mind. He's got a missionary's mentality. We will save them, even if they object. Blair is a dangerous man, ruthless enough to inflict his idealism on others. Somehow, I think the next Question Time will be very, very interesting.Posted July 13, 2003 05:44 AM