Mark Steel: It takes a warrior like Blair to talk of peace

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I concede defeat. Watching Tony Blair parading around the Annapolis summit as the representative of the Quartet of Europe, the UN, Russia and the US, I can't think of any situation more ridiculous than making Tony Blair a peace envoy for the Middle-East.

I considered saying it was like putting Steve McClaren in charge of the investigation into failing to qualify for the European finals, but at least McClaren was trying to win. Whereas there's not much evidence Blair has spent the past five years desperately trying to stop wars, only to be let down by his team who've gone out and started them by mistake. I'd also considered saying it was like putting Ian Huntley in charge of the search for Madeline, but Huntley would probably claim he regrets his crime, rather than insisting history will prove him right, and boasting he only carried it out after consulting God.

I pondered Ellen Macarthur as President of the Flat Earth Society, Amy Winehouse as leader of the Taliban, Ian Paisley as Secretary of the Noise Abatement Society, Pete Doherty as treasurer for the Society for Abolition of Drugs, Hats and Bad Timekeeping, but none of it matches the surreal horror of making a peace envoy to the Middle-East out of the man who insisted on setting it ablaze.

Everything he says in this job, when you bear in mind his record, is utterly nutty. So he said the task will require patience. In other words "I've tried invading Iraq, telling volumes of lies to justify it, watching it cause a million deaths and four million refugees, then been the only European leader to support bombing Lebanon, and these people still won't calm down and keep quiet. I suppose it just takes time."

When he appears at a press conference as "Peace envoy", how can reporters take it seriously? It must be like attending an event where a stark-naked green-painted man bounces in on a space hopper and in a high pitched squeak declares his plan for peace is to give the Palestinians their own state on a giant Custard Cream under the sea.

Then they have to report "Early indications are that Libya and Jordan are cautiously optimistic about the proposal, though the Syrians were sceptical about whether settlements in the central creamy area could get extremely squishy, and the Lebanese asked for assurances that the Israelis couldn't destroy the new state by dunking it in an underground giant cup of tea. But at least the two sides are talking."

One of Tony Blair's photo sessions involved him sitting in a crumbling hut with a family of Palestinians, trying to look as if he'd popped in while passing by.

Maybe there'd been some amiable small talk, such as "Oh I see you're having some work done. Are you knocking through to the kitchen? Oh that was done by an Israeli rocket was it? Well at least they're quick. When we had a wall taken out the blooming builders took seven weeks about it."

It might come to his notice, while he's arranging peace for them, that the people of Gaza have been without electricity for several months, and that, coupled with living under siege, this probably isn't helping. Or maybe that's all part of the plan. Cherie has told him that candlelight spreads a sense of inner calm and tranquil thought-waves. Now all they need is some essence of juniper oil and incense cones wafting across the rubble and they won't care whether their territories are occupied.

To make this latest peace plan even more pointless, the one group not invited is Hamas, who are supported by most of the occupied Palestinians. So presumably one of the little concessions this proposed state will have to make is it can only exist if it elects the government Israel and America want it to elect. Maybe they should agree, on the condition that Israel and America are only recognised if they elect the government the Palestinians want.

Strangely, the last time Bush and Blair came up with a "Road-map for peace" was in the weeks before they invaded Iraq. This meant they could insist the invasion was part of an overall plan to bring peace. Cynics might argue that when you look at the consequences of that war, "peace" isn't the first word that springs to mind. And now, as they move towards bombing Iran, off they go again, the two friends who'll do anything to bring about peace, except for not starting a war.

To show how little effort Blair makes, one reporter described how he turned up to the summit "with an entourage double the size of anyone in that position before".

Maybe he's seen 50 Cent and Puff Daddy and thinks he now deserves the same status. So he might surprise us with a speech that starts "Yo yo yo, George Bush he the man. Now listen up yeah, I'm here representen' for my homies up there in the Pentagon, an' I just like to thank God for giving me the talent to speak bullshit an' have people believe me an' all, peace bros, big up for peace."

He might as bloody well. Meanwhile, if anyone can think how to complete the sentence "Making Tony Blair a Middle-East peace envoy is like making...", please let me know.

Comments