the most acute horror of the Blair years: British foreign policy. Britain joined the US in bombing Iraq in 1998 and Yugoslavia in 1999. It backed Russia’s assault on Chechnya in 1999 and Israel’s on Lebanon in 2006. It armed Indonesia as it attacked Aceh province in 2003 and continues to succour brutal regimes in Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan. Blair and his chancellor Brown have made much of the growth of Britain’s international aid budget – now up to a measly 0.52% of GNP - while acting in global trade forums as insistent voices for the kind of one-sided pro-corporate liberalisation that has wrecked the lives of millions in the developing world.This article also appeared in The Hindu recently.
Finally and most damningly, Blair leaves Britain deeply embroiled in two avoidable, unjustifiable overseas wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. He comes second only to Bush in bearing personal responsibility for the deaths of 655,000 Iraqis and the near destruction of an entire society. After the calculated lies Blair told both Parliament and the public to get Britain to make war against Iraq, the greatest regret is that he will leave office without being impeached, though there is still hope he may face an international criminal tribunal at some time in the future. In Blair’s book, of course, accountability, like the obligation to pay your taxes, only applies to those Leona Helmsley once infamously described as “the little people”. For the rich, there will always be an exemption, and Blair’s successor, whether Labour or Conservative, will work hard to make sure it stays that way.
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