Friday, June 29, 2007

Tony Blair - Monkey With a Tin Cup

By Cernig

If a week is a long time in politics, it seems 48 hours is an even longer time after you leave politics. Two days ago Tony was full of big noises about what he was going to do in the Middle East. Now the truth comes out - Blair is to be no more than a sock-puppet, mouthing the words given to him by Bush and with absolutely no power to negotiate any settlement of the Israeli/Palestian question. He's to be the monkey, not the organgrinder.
the State Department said that Mr Blair will be confined to improving the institutions of the Palestinian Authority.

One former US adviser predicted swift "frustration" for Mr Blair and likened his role to carrying a "tin cup" around the world, raising funds for the Palestinians.

Mr Blair has been named an envoy of the "Quartet" - a group charged with bringing about peace in the Middle East - comprising America, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.

On the day of his appointment, he told Parliament his "absolute priority" would be to "give effect" to a "two-state solution, which means a state of Israel that is secure and confident of its security and a Palestinian state that is viable, not merely in terms of its territory, but in terms of its institutions".

Then he told the Northern Echo newspaper that his "huge challenge" was to "prepare the ground for a negotiated settlement".

The Bush administration quickly contradicted Mr Blair's sweeping definition of his role. Tom Casey, the State Department's deputy spokesman, made it clear that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will be handled by Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State.

"We'd like to be able to have an envoy to focus very specifically on helping with some of these institution-building tasks for the Palestinian Authority," said Mr Casey.

"But my understanding is there's certainly no envisioning that this individual would be a negotiator on behalf of the Quartet between the Israelis and Palestinians."
So much for Blair's brave new McJob. One analyst put it into perspective for the telegraph.

"If he lacks the capacity to be tough with the Israelis on the whole host of issues relating to movement - checkpoints, crossing points and all the rest - then his role is essentially Operation Tin Cup. He will carry a tin cup around the world and raise money and not much else."
This, to quote the immortal movie George of the Jungle, is where we all throw back our heads and laugh. Ready?


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