Jimmy Carter on Tony Blair
Former US President Jimmy Carter's comments on Tony Blair in an interview in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph are, or should be, compulsory reading. It's fashionable nowadays to dismiss Carter as an insignificant figure, even to laugh at him, but for my money he's greatly underrated, and I believe that history will take a much more positive view of him (not just because of his opinion of our prime minister).
Perhaps the most perceptive thing Carter is quoted as saying about Blair is this:
Asked why he thinks Mr Blair has behaved in the way that he has with President Bush's belligerent regime, Mr Carter said he could only put it down to timidity.
That really rings bells. Blair is generally criticised for many failings, but his timidity is rarely one of them. In fact it's evident in many of the otherwise inexplicable things he has done, as well as his failure to lay down stiff conditions for his support of the US attack on Iraq: his repeated premature dismissals of close political allies on inadequate evidence, for fear of facing accusations of cronyism in the Tory press; his extreme reluctance to stand up to the demands of the police and the security services for ever more powers; his fear of incurring the hostility of The Sun newspaper and other Murdoch organs; his prolonged reluctance to go ahead with reforms of the House of Lords and the Lord Chancellorship; even his preoccupation with strong leadership — the stress on being decisive even when wrong. Old Jimmy has hit a vital nail on the head.