Carry On Poodle
When I first heard about the plan for Blair to be a Middle East envoy, I thought the idea was so surreal that it could be filed with the other unrealistic job possibilities that have been suggested for Blair. Once again, it seems that the most ludicrous idea is the one that actually becomes a reality. Plans have been finalised and it looks like Blair will indeed become a Middle East envoy as soon as he leaves office. Can you imagine the shouts of joy all over the region as the warmonger arrives claiming to be a peacemaker? I admit I'm having difficulty picturing it. Of course the Israelis will celebrate at the prospect of an envoy who as UK Prime Minister never once criticised their atrocities whilst always being the among the first to condemn Palestinian or Hezbollah atrocities.
Now that his new job is looking like a certainty, some of the details about how he landed it are starting to emerge.
The idea of Mr Blair doing this job is understood to have originated with the prime minister himself in conversation with George Bush, who then suggested it to the UN. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, is said to be a keen supporter and Washington was reported last night to have mounted "an enormous push" to ensure Mr Blair got the post.
Diplomats said there was some disquiet over the way US talks with Mr Blair were well advanced before any details were shared with the other quartet partners.
So it was Blair's idea and it was pushed through by Bush with the Quartet only being informed in the final stages. Hmmm, sounds like a familiar pattern doesn't it? I wonder what the reaction of the Quartet would have been if its members had been informed earlier. For Blair the job is ideal. He gets to carry on being Bush's poodle and also retains a degree of diplomatic immunity which could be very handy in the coming months. No doubt Gordon Brown is delighted at the prospect of having Blair out of the way too as he starts his new job...and in such a dangerous part of the world. Meanwhile Cherie can travel the safer parts of the world finding suckers willing to pay money to listen to her.
Less delighted will be the Palestinians who will have to negotiate with someone who only has American and Israeli interests at heart, but then they are probably used to that and they should know Blair well enough not to believe a word he says. After all they only need refer back to Blair's record in the region. After lying Britain into the Iraq war whilst knowing that there was no plan for the aftermath, Iraq is now the world's second most unstable country, after Sudan. And Blair is so deluded that he still fails to recognise that it was that disaster (along with his determination to prevent a ceasefire in the Lebanon war) which helped cut short his last job.
Because Blair is being sponsored by the Bush administration for this job, there is little chance of him succeeding. The Quartet has already been criticised in a UN report because of America's support for Israel.
The role of the Quartet was recently criticised by the UN's outgoing Middle East envoy, Alvaro de Soto, who claimed that American support for Israel was hampering efforts to broker a peace deal in the region.
Mr de Soto used an "end of mission report" to mark the end of his 25 years in post to accuse the Quartet of gradually losing its impartiality.
Which makes one wonder just what Mr Blair will be able to achieve. He will be filling the vacancy created by the departure of Jim Wolfensohn.
Mr Wolfensohn worked on issues such as galvanising international economic assistance to the Palestinians, economic development, governance, justice and human rights.
Does this really sound like the sort of thing Blair is suited to do? Blair is better known for supporting the cutting of aid to Palestinians in order to punish them for making a democratic choice he disagreed with. He is also known to have little time for the judiciary in Britain and his support for torture puts a huge question mark over his commitment to human rights. In order to carry out his duties, he will have to talk to Hamas who are in control of Gaza and have significant support in the West Bank. He will also have to force concessions from the Israelis, something he has, up to now, been noticeably reluctant to do.
So the relief of seeing Blair depart from Number Ten is tempered by the knowledge that we are still going to see him continue to strut about on the world stage. I suppose his disappearing into obscurity was too much to hope for but I did think we'd at least be given a break.