Greatly misunderstood, and therefore overrated, in this country, just a few years ago Blair was depicted by many as our Churchillian ally, sending troops to Iraq, and what’s more, able to utter two or three consecutive sentences that seemed to make a kind of sense — thus distinguishing himself from the confused, yet obstinate in his confusion, American President.
It was all nonsense. Few in the United States knew about Blair the trimmer and Blair the schemer, and Blair the man who carred a Qur’an about with him and was even more fervent than Bush in his expressed admiration for that book and for Islam. Blair soon after 9/11 was ostentatiously carrying a Qur’an around, telling one and all that he was reading it, or had read it, and that there was nothing worrisome about its contents. Whether he has discovered that the Hadith and Sira are equally inoffensive, and that the entire history of Muslim conquest has been one of almost uninterrupted sweetness and light, is unclear.
To take his measure, read the little chapter devoted to him in Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between, entitled “Blair and the Koran.” It shows most, if not quite all, of Blair’s fatuity. It stops short of completing the job, because Stewart does not let loose with the real contents of Qur’an and Hadith. In fact, he fails to mention that Blair overlooks, or appears not to know about, the Hadith and Sira, as if the Qur’an were all that mattered. I would guess that this is not Stewart’s fault, but that his publisher did not want him to be too explicit on the subject of Islam. Nonetheless, he does a good job of blowing up Blair, his pretensions, his claims to understanding Islam, his everything. And Blair is not the worst political figure England now has to offer; he is one of the semi-acceptable ones.
Then think of what he is doing now. From southern Thailand across all of Asia to Iran and Iraq and Lebanon and in Gaza and in Egypt and in Algeria, and in France, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and then to North America, where we are not fighting them here (so all those people arrested, those “charities” shut down, those plots uncovered, are figments of perfervid imaginations) because, you see, we “are fighting them over there,” despite everything that is happening he still prates about the importance of a settlement between “Israel” and “Palestine.” (Yet this in itself is a toponym which, nowadays, as referring to precisely the same territory, or much of it, sinisterly reifies what does not now and should not exist.) He thus echoes all those who believe this to be true not because there is evidence that it is true, but because the Arabs tell them that it is true — they wouldn’t lie, would they? And it is so much more pleasant to keep avoiding the nature of Islam, the tenets of Islam, the attitudes of Islam, the atmospherics of Islam, to ignore the texts, to ignore the jurisconsults, to ignore the Qur’anic commentators, to ignore everyone from al-Ghazali to Ibn Khaldun, to ignore all the scholars from Schacht and Snouck Hurgronje to Arthur Jeffery and Ignaz Goldziher, and to substitute for all of those the My Weekly Reader-level treatments of self-deluded Karen Armstrong and the venal John Esposito. It is so much more pleasant to ignore, in short, everything — and to concentrate on mighty Israel, and its mighty threat to the Arabs and Muslims, and to somehow pretend that the Taliban will be soothed if only the “two-state solution” is implemented. Yet “two-state solution” is itself a farcical phrase that can only be used by the unthinking, for it is no “solution” to feed Islamic triumphalism. It is no “solution” to visibly weaken Israel so that the Arab rulers feel in some cases that they can, and in other cases that they must, go in for the final kill.
Blair is Everyman, or rather Everyleader in this Iron Age. He invites comparison with Bush and gains by the comparison. But on any other scale, his silliness, after so many years when he has had every chance to learn about Islam, is striking and unnerving and grotesque.
He and Bush, and most of the other leaders, and the members of respective parliamentary bodies, and the most important radio and television stations (including the BBC there and NPR here), and the major newspapers, are all determined not to study, not to think, and certainly not to instruct others, in the real nature of Islam.
And the danger is not an abstract one. The longer Infidels do not understand, the more likely it is that they will continue to permit Muslim immigration into their countries. The longer Infidels do not understand, the more likely it is that they will assume that the “murderous ideology” which Bush has referred to with his usual vagueness, can indeed be defeated by offering a counter-ideology of “compassion and hope.”
Some of that new ideology of “compassion and hope” can be seen in Iraq today, in such places as Basra, where Shari’a rules are being established through force, in Iraq, our friend full of friendly Iraqis, where the Iraqi government has just signed an agreement for the training of some of those friendly Iraqis by no doubt equally friendly Iranians.
Everything begins with understanding the nature of the enemy, what prompts that enemy, what inspires or per contra demoralizes that enemy. If that is not understood, the nation will not know where to put its feet and hands. That’s what Confucius say. And so do I.