The Wobbly West
posted at 11:14 am on July 31, 2006 by Bryan
UK PM Tony Blair denies his Cabinet is split over Israel’s self-defense. Which means it is. Commentary from Labour’s back-benchers is disheartening:
One normally loyal MP said: “Mr Blair is struggling on this. There are certainly loyalists saying he has got this completely wrong. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Another loyalist added: “For Blair himself, this is seriously bad”.
One backbencher added: “There are a lot of people not the usual suspects deeply concerned that there seems to be no demonstrable evidence that Britain is having a moderating influence on Israel.”
And there’s no evidence at all that pretending Iran and Syria aren’t directing Hezbollah’s violence will ever have any moderating effect on any of them.
Demoted former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has come out swinging at Blair, choosing an interesting venue to air his disagreement:
In an eye-popping bold attack on Blair’s American-led foreign policy of equidistance between Israeli attack and Lebanese suffering, former foreign secretary Jack Straw fired the first cabinet salvo on the prime minister.
Speaking to his mainly Indian Muslim constituents in Blackburn, north west England, Jack Straw said that he was speaking for several cabinet colleagues when he voiced concern over Israeli tactics in bombing Lebanese civilians. (emphasis added)
If Straw condemned Iran and Syria, the reporter didn’t mention it. But given the audience Straw chose to speak to, it’s not likely that Iran and Syria came in for much criticism. And there’s a reason for that:
Senior cabinet ministers have criticised Blair for refusing to condemn Israel’s disproportionate use of force and warned that Labour would lose British Muslim votes “hand over fist”. Reports say that Blair was pressed by minister after minister at a recent cabinet meeting to break with the American view and publicly criticise Israel over the scale of death and destruction. (emphasis added)
This is dhimmitude on the march–Labour depends on Muslim votes to sustain its rule, and Muslim interests right now are counter to the Israelis and by extention the UK’s interests. This rift may lead to the premature end of Blair’s rule, and to the ascension of an anti-Israeli and anti-American government in the UK that tilts toward the Muslim point of view. Because of the Muslim vote’s effect on Labour policies. Londonistan may become more than a metaphor.
Elsewhere around the Western powers, France is slamming Israel and praising Iran as a “stabilizing element.”
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told reporters at the news conference in France that Israel’s willingness to suspend its air strikes on Hizbullah terror targets was “only a first step, but still not enough.” De Villepin maintained that the “cessation of the aerial attacks is insufficient in light of the situation in Lebanon.”
At the news conference held in Beirut, French Foreign Minister Phillippe Douste-Blazy praised Iran as a “stabilizing force in the Middle East.” Douste-Blazy told reporters that Iran “is an outstanding country with great people and an honorable civilization. It has a crucial role in the region.”
Germany hasn’t outright condemned Israel in the style of the French, but isn’t identifying the enemy either. It does not support a NATO role in Lebanon, which is a sign of sanity in Berlin.
Russia has predictably condemned the Qana strike and called for an immediate cease-fire, even while it continues to arm Iran, which continues to arm Hezbollah in what has to be the most short-sighted and self-delusional policy of any of the major powers. Does Putin really think Iran, once it has perfected the Shahab and armed it with nuclear warheads, won’t menace Moscow? Any assurance from Tehran is just as valuable as that non-aggression pact Stalin signed with Hitler.
And the US is pretending the war is between Israel and Lebanon.
All of this is occurring before Iran becomes a true nuclear power with a reach beyond the region. How will the West behave once Iran can use its terrorists and its missiles to destroy nearly any Western city?