By John Kampfner in the New Statesman
Blair knew the attack on Lebanon was coming but he didn’t try to stop it, because he didn’t want to. He has made this country an accomplice, destroying what remained of our influence abroad while putting us all at greater risk of attack.
At a Downing Street reception not long ago, a guest had the temerity to ask Tony Blair: “How do you sleep at night, knowing that you’ve been responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis?” The Prime Minister is said to have retorted: “I think you’ll find it’s closer to 50,000.”
No British leader since Winston Churchill has dealt in war with such alacrity as the present one. Back then, it was in the cause of saving the nation from Nazism. Now, it is in the cause of putting into practice the foreign policy of the simpleton. During his nine years in power, Blair – and in this government it is he, and he alone – has managed to ensure that the UK has become both reviled and stripped of influence across vast stretches of the world. In so doing, he has increased the danger of terrorism to Britain itself.
Israel’s assault on Lebanon is, in many respects, as disastrous as the war in Iraq. But at least then the pre-war hubris and deceit were played out in parliament and at the UN. This latest act of folly took place suddenly, with only the barest of attempts to justify it to global public opinion. And it stems from the core Middle East problem: the decades-old conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
I am told that the Israelis informed George W Bush in advance of their plans to “destroy” Hezbollah by bombing villages in southern Lebanon. The Americans duly informed the British. So Blair knew. This exposes as a fraud the debate of the past week about calling for a ceasefire. Indeed, one of the reasons why negotiations failed in Rome was British obduracy. This has been a case not of turning a blind eye and failing to halt the onslaught, but of providing active support.