the Disillusioned kid
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Saturday, April 17, 2004

The Bush-Blair conference yesterday in Washington saw a major shift in US policy towards UN involvement in the "handover" of Iraqi "sovereignty". As The Guardian notes, "Just two years ago, Mr Bush was warning the UN it would be "irrelevant" if the security council did not pass a resolution approving war with Iraq. Yesterday, in contrast, Mr Bush thanked the UN several times over"and "indicated that he is fully signed up to the plan being devised by Lakhdar Brahimi, the special United Nations envoy in Iraq". This plan would see prominent Iraqis form a government after the June 30 "handover" and could see national elections brought forward as early as January. Many commentators have attributed this shift in policy to Tony Blair and we will doubtless be told that it is a vindication of his close relationship with the President, however until a few days ago the PM seemed as committed to the US plan (such as it was) as anyone. It is also interesting to note that this decision to involve the UN has come after an upsurge in resistance against the occupation. It seems not unreasonable to conclude that this marks a major victory for the Iraqi "resistance" (a term I use in the widest sense) and suggests that there is hope that the Iraqis may yet gain genuine control over their own country.

The pair's statements regarding the unilateral Israeli land-grab (what is described in much of the media as an Israel withdrawal) are far less encouraging. According to The Times, "Mr Blair issued a clear endorsement of Israel's plan to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank." That the withdrawal is a sham which will alllow Israel to retain direct control of the areas it wants while leaving the others for a emasculated Palestinian "state" is apparently not a serious issue, indeed at worst it is a diversion from the "only realistic route" to a settlement; the "roadmap". One wonders how the world would have reacted had Hitler offered to "withdraw" from two-thirds of France, but retain control of Paris and other areas of use to Germany, as a concession to the "realities on the ground" and Churchill had "clearly endorsed" such an "initiative". The analogy is, of course, deeply flawed, but the issue is a real one.

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