“It’s Apocalypse Now meets Disneyland” is a comment made by one of the military personnel during Blair’s farewell to Baghdad. Martin Amis has been a fly on the wall during the World Tour and takes in Belfast and Washington as well as Baghdad, Basra and London.
Amis has a go at us “semi-literate bloggers”, but quite frankly I found the article a pain to read. So why have I linked it here? It’s the way that it conjures up the headline comment that pervades the whole piece, not only in Baghdad. Here we see exposed the horrors of reality against the background of the contrived, managed, spun actors charged with decision making in what at the moment are the powerful nations on earth: America through it’s dominance of resources and Britain by virtue of tagging on behind. Are Bush and Blair up to it? Not on this evidence, though would anyone be?
Perhaps not, but the term “delusional” has been applied, it seems aptly, to Blair. This seems to me to make it so dangerous. Amis notes Blair’s comments to soldiers in Basra:
“Something happened to Blair in Basra – at the airport base, which is pretty well all that’s left of the operation in the south, the city having been abandoned to the general atomisation: Shia factions, tribal militias, armed gangs. There had been several hundred handshakes in the Coffee Bar (the old VIP room), and several hundred 10-second conversations; there had been a reasonably good speech, reasonably well received. Blair then repaired to a side room, for a closed session with the padre, several officers and about 25 young soldiers. And something happened.
There was talk from the senior men about ‘the hard and dark side’ of recent events at the camp (losses of life and limb), about transformative experiences, about the way ‘these young people have had to grow up very quickly’. And when it came to Blair, all the oxygen went out of him. It wasn’t just that he seemed acutely underbriefed (on munitions, projects, tactics). He was quite unable to find weight of voice, to find decorum, the appropriate words for the appropriate mood. ‘So we kill more of them than they kill us … You’re getting back out there and after them. It’s brilliant, actually …’ The PM, it has to be said, appeared to be the least articulate man in the room. The least articulate – and also the youngest”
Disneyland indeed! All the things we worried about are brought into sharp focus. The self-confessed “Christian”, devoid of humanitarian instinct, this would-be unifier of world faiths uncomprehending of opinions and feelings of British citizens. Apocalypse now. But it’s Blair not Iraq!