THURSDAY, 5 JANUARY 2007
The Guardian reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has cut short his Christmas break in Florida in order to deal with the latest political crisis in Northern Ireland. Typically, Blair's latest holiday seems somewhat lengthier than those enjoyed by his ministerial colleagues, not to mention the British public.
Media reports suggest that Blair, who is known to be extremely concerned with his 'legacy' to the world and to history, would prefer to leave office later rather than sooner. A speech by Home Secretary John Reid has re-fueled speculation and interest in the issue of Blair's successor, who is expected to form a government at some unspecified point later this year.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration, confronted by a potentially hostile new Congress, seems increasingly concerned with extricating itself from the chaos of its Iraq adventure. Somehow, I doubt that even the most ardent neo-con/Blairite seriously imagines that the ramifications of Bush and Blair's foreign policy will be tidily resolved within the next six months. Blair has already created a legacy that will probably haunt the Middle East and the world for decades to come.
On the domestic front, the schedule for Blair's departure, which admittedly seems to change with alarming frequency, will not allow him sufficient time to properly oversee his latest pet project: the privatisation of Britain's National Health Service. He certainly does not seem entirely convinced of Gordon Brown's commitment to this project.
More importantly, Blair has long since sacrificed his credibility with the British electorate. It is doubtful that he would ever be able to persuade a wary British Parliament to support a military offensive ever again. His silence over the manner of Saddam Hussein's execution is perhaps reflective of lost confidence or some other malaise.
In short, Blair has become a 'lame-duck' Prime Minister. He has already imposed his legacy on the world and he clearly is uncomfortable with it. However, he no longer has time to make amends. The time has come for him to relinquish his hubristic self-delusions and accept the inevitable consequences of his premiership. He should resign sooner rather than later.