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The Steve Beauchampé column



Tony Blair, you are a liar and a coward. You bluster on about respect, being tough on crime, standing up to bullies, the right to live free from even signed British soldiers up to a never ending war against it.

You lied to us about Iraq, your political ignorance and desperation to support the USA at all costs created a civil war that daily kills scores of people. You enthusiastically sent British forces back to the tribal quagmire of Afghanistan on a futile mission that other Western leaders (apart from the one who is even madder than you) took one look at and effectively wrung their hands of. You wilfully ignore the ongoing desecration of fundamental human rights and liberties perpetuated in Guantanamo Bay. You respond with indifference to the kidnapping and torture of those merely suspected of crimes of terror and to serious accusations of your Government's role in the practice, as accessory and facilitator.

Given that invading other countries, with or without the legal sanctity of international law, has fast become your stock in trade, perhaps we should not be suprised at your obscene failure to criticise as Israel murders the population and systematically destroys the infrastructure of Lebanon - a sovereign nation whose Government and people have done it no harm (though goodness knows after 18 years of occupation they have sufficient reason to). A friendly, pro-Western, anti-Syrian, anti-Iranian nation at that, exactly the voice of moderation that you America claim to be so keen to see established in the region.

Instead you blame only Hezbollah and those who supply it with arms, as if the history of the Middle East only began on July 10th 2006. You reserve not a word of criticism for Israel, serial flouters of international law, of the Geneva Convention, of UN Resolutions, the country that ‘secretly' developed nuclear weapons (as if the CIA didn't know!) and then kidnapped and imprisoned without trial Mordeci Venunu, the man who exposed this fact to the world. Israel, which holds an estimated 9,000 Palestinians in it's jails without trial, without adequate legal representation, and which violated Lebanese airspace more than 20 times this year alone prior to July 10th.

Mr. Blair, you sicken me with your phoney, self-righteous claims to be outraged by acts of terror, by the slaughter of innocent lives, to care, love and understand Islam. What is the bombing of both civilians and members of the Lebanese military, in their houses, in their workplaces, as they try to flee the onslaught for which they bear no responsibility, if not terror? Terror carried out by a country safe in the knowledge that the world's superpowers, the self-declared upholders of international laws and morals, will always turn a blind eye to its military excesses, will pass by on the other side while the innocent scream for help as Israel's US supplied weapons rain down on them.

Mr. Blair, the fingers of your Government and those of your predecessors are all over the conflicts of the Middle East. You call for democracy in Palestine and then desire the overthrow of the Government which that democracy delivers, you claim the right of people to self-determination and then dismiss those who take up arms to achieve this aim against those who oppress and humiliate them as terrorists (have you forgotten Ben Guerian, Mandela?). And by your very public silence you give succour and encouragement to Israel's onslaught against the innocent people of Lebanon.

So what action do you take? You send warships to the region. For what, to threaten Israel that one more bomb, one more civilian casualty and they will find out what getting tough on crime really means? No, to rescue British citizens and thence to withdraw to the safety of Cyprus while the Lebanese, whose hospitality and kindness to their foreign guests would put many of your countrymen to shame, remain to hope and pray that they do not become another statistic of Israel's wanton approach to collateral damage.

Your deep religious beliefs, your ethical foreign policy, your desire to be seen as an international statesman and broker are morally bankrupt. Mr. Blair, the application of international law, human rights, respect and decency, does not apply to you and your allies, these are expendable commodities.

I do not believe you. You are a liar and a coward.

Steve Beauchampé


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