THE BLOG
06/09/2013 16:41 BST | Updated 06/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Tony Blair Is the Embarrassing Uncle of British Politics

No drumbeat to war would be complete without Tony Blair banging the loudest.

Like that embarrassing uncle who ruins every family social gathering with his propensity for saying and doing the most outrageous things, offending everyone in the process, up pops the former prime minister in a recent interview with the BBC lamenting the recent parliamentary vote which led to Britain's historic break from Washington's coattails on the matter of military intervention for the first time in a generation.

For a man who's made a career, both in and out of British politics, as a proponent of might is right, this is tantamount to sacrilege. And for someone imbued with the belief that Britain's influence in the world is in direct proportion to its willingness to hurl cruise missiles at wherever Washington wants them hurled, it marks nothing less than the nation's ruin.

At least Blair admits in the interview that the decision taken by the Commons on Syria was heavily influenced by Iraq, the foreign policy disaster which he co-authored and pushed through with George W Bush and US neocons regardless of international legality, consequences, and the largest demonstration in the nation's history.

You might think that even the hint of a lesson from this disaster may have been learned; but, no, the former PM's only regret is how it has made the nation "hesitant"' to repeat it with regard to Syria.

This to be sure reveals the skewed outlook of a man so occluded from reality in the rarefied world of private jets, corporate boardrooms, and luxury homes and hotel suites he now inhabits, he no longer knows his political arse from his elbow. Not that he ever did, of course, but when prime minister he at least tried to give the impression that his feet were situated somewhere in the vicinity of Planet Earth.

But since then, liberated as only a dyed in the wool interventionist can be from the constraints of public opinion, Blair has extended himself in turning Orwell's admonition in Nineteen Eighty Four of 'war is peace' into reality. As someone once said, Orwell's classic dystopian novel was written as a warning not an instruction manual.

With Obama and Putin locking horns this week at the G20 in St Petersburg over the question of military intervention in Syria, you get the sense that for all the lucre Blair has amassed since leaving Downing Street in 2007, he would trade it all for a seat at the table of global politics in St Petersburg outdoing Obama in making the case for intervention as the sine qua non of leadership.

And let's be under no illusion what this intervention would have meant for Britain in the case of Syria. It would have meant entering the nation into a de facto military alliance with Al Qaeda, given that it is an Al Qaeda affiliate - the Nusra Front - which is the strongest, best armed, and funded of the polyglot armed groups that are fighting in Syria. Just pause to consider this a moment: a British Government would have effectively been joining forces with the same ideology that was behind the atrocities of 9/11, 7/7, the Madrid bomb, and most recently and horrifically the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

Both Cameron's and Miliband's justification for military action - i.e. humanitarian intervention bypassing the UN - would have constituted a breach of international law. No provision exists within the Fourth Geneva Convention for one state or any constellation of states to take aggressive military action by themselves on this basis.

The credit for not only the British government's defeat in the Commons, but also the Obama administration's decision to see Congressional approval before they themselves embark on military action, lies with the British public. Opinion poll after opinion poll in the days leading up to the parliamentary debate revealed a clear consensus against it. If the reply I received from my own constituency MP to my letter demanding a No vote is anything to go by, MPs were deluged with messages and phone calls from members of the public on the issue.

The result not only rocked the British establishment, it rocked Washington, giving succour and momentum to a rising tide of antiwar sentiment in the US, which has incubated and grown in recent days.

So, yes, the British public certainly takes the credit for the remarkable turnaround witnessed last week when it comes to British foreign policy and its relationship with Washington. Hopefully it marks the beginning of the end of the so-called special relationship, wherein Britain has consistently filled the role of obedient and eager satrap in service to US power and hegemony around the world.

Such a prospect will not sit comfortably with Tony Blair of course, for whom Washington is the bedrock of civilisation - the 'one indispensable nation' as its myth makers would have the world believe.

But, then, who really takes the former British prime minister seriously nowadays? His legacy is Iraq, after all, a humanitarian disaster for which many believe he should have entered the dock at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes long before now.

He is the embarrassing uncle of British politics, reduced to repeatedly reminding us of the time when British parliamentary democracy was dragged through the mud.