Even Henry Fonda would fail to persuade Tony Blair

Soon it will be like 'Twelve Angry Men', with only Bush, Rumsfeld and Blair refusing to budge
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Every week the forces that supported the war lose another ally. Last week it was Spain, this week another of Bush's advisors. Soon it will be like the closing stages of Twelve Angry Men, with only Bush, Rumsfeld and Blair refusing to budge. Jimmy Carter seems ready to play the old man, who makes occasional wise observations such as "That President has the posture of a man who knows he's not very bright and is scared of being found out. That's why he'll say whatever he thinks will impress the people he's been told are clever."

Every week the forces that supported the war lose another ally. Last week it was Spain, this week another of Bush's advisors. Soon it will be like the closing stages of Twelve Angry Men, with only Bush, Rumsfeld and Blair refusing to budge. Jimmy Carter seems ready to play the old man, who makes occasional wise observations such as "That President has the posture of a man who knows he's not very bright and is scared of being found out. That's why he'll say whatever he thinks will impress the people he's been told are clever."

Eventually, Rumsfeld will be the one who cracks up, screaming: "These people are rats I tell yer, we had 'em by the throat and now you're gonna let 'em slip away."

Then Bush will break down in tears, hurling a photograph to the ground while sobbing "Bloody Dads, you do your best and, baaaa." But Blair will ruin the whole scene by calling out "Well, I still think it was a good war."

Even Henry Fonda wouldn't have won Blair round. If the prosecution lawyers had come in the room shouting "The lad's innocent, we made the whole case up," Blair would say, "None of this changes the central fact that I was right to take the action I took because he's guilty."

Bush and Rumsfeld are now having to deny allegations from former colleagues that they planned to invade Iraq as soon as they took office, and responded to the attack on the twin towers by trying to blame Saddam. But that's clearly the way they work. They decide on a target and then blame them for everything, just like a teacher with a particular bad kid. Sometimes Saddam must have wanted to jab the President of Uzbekistan in the ribs, grumbling, " You get to boil people alive and they never blame you and they give you weapons and it's not fair." Because once you're in their good books they don't mind what you do. When Gaddafi meets Blair, he could get away with saying, "Guess what, it was me that did the twin towers. I was going to fly one of the planes myself but something cropped up."

As it becomes increasingly clear that the motives for the invasion had nothing to do with an Iraqi "threat", Blair insists he wants to "draw a line" under the whole affair. But it's not his line to draw. If you rob a bank you can't tell the police that the robbery was justified, but you understand that some people don't agree so perhaps it's best if you draw a line under the whole business and start again as friends.

And events won't allow the line to be drawn, which is why Spain now has an anti-war prime minister. This has been derided as a "surrender to terrorism", despite the fact that two days before the election nine million Spaniards marched against terrorism. So if they were "soft" on terrorism, between the march and the election they must have all changed their minds. Perhaps by the Sunday they all thought, "Well, time's a great healer and terrorism's not so bad once you get used to it. And say what you like about Spanish cities being bombed, it often leads to a decent painting."

What the defenders of the war fail to grasp is there is a radical position it's possible to take, which is to be against both sorts of bombing. It's a complex argument, I know, but basically you oppose telling lies to justify invading a country and slaughtering thousands of people and oppose exploding a commuter train. Obviously you can't expect many people to grasp this straight away, and even experienced philosophers will have difficulties with the finer points. Maybe this proposal will be given a name, like twin-sphere-anti-random-carnage-theory.

But millions of Spaniards appear to have understood it, especially when the old government tried to use the bomb to their advantage by blaming the Basques. If they'd got away with it, we might have seen a similar attempt here following a bomb, with Blair saying, "From our initial investigations there seems little doubt that this is once again the work of Gordon Brown."

This would be no more crazy than the common line that anyone who tries to work out the motives of the bombers is somehow aiding them, because the only response that can solve the problem is to yell that they're evil. So Bush and Blair should never watch The Silence of the Lambs, in which the whole story is about trying to get inside the head of a serial killer in order to stop him. They'd stand up in the cinema yelling, "By trying to work out how he thinks you're simply encouraging people to eat each other."

Which is why the ideal greeting from the new Spanish leader, Zapatero, would have been to yell with exasperation into Blair's face, "No, don't invade another country, you'll make it worse. No, worse, comprende?"

While Blair stood there looking gormless, bleating, "Me no understand, me Tony," and Zapatero explained to the press, "I'm so sorry, he's from New Labour," before eventually saying, "Tony, you're a waste of space," and banging him on the head with a spoon.

Comments