Tony Blair - Prisoner Of War
By Greg Palast

'Here, boy! Sit! Here y'go! Good boy!'

Poor George Bush. All week he's been practicing his lines for presenting Tony Blair with a special medallion for his services to the USA when the British Prime Minister arrives in Washington tomorrow. Unfortunately for Bush, Mr. Blair's handlers realized what joy it would bring to England's political cartoonists for the President to hang a gilded collar around the man now known as 'Bush's poodle,' a nasty, if wholly justified, sobriquet.

Blair is in the doghouse with his own Labour Party for having been caught in a fib. Seems the Brits have their knickers in a twist about their leader's ludicrous fabrication of evidence that Saddam Hussein had jars of bad bugs, piles of atomic mud and an evil chemistry set in his basement capable of wiping away London. I've just read a Parliamentary report in which Blair's own minister calls his boss' claims about the bogus Weapons of Mass Destruction, 'a bunch of Horlicks.' The phrase defies translation, but you get the idea. So does Tony ñ which is why England's bookies are giving 2-to-9 odds Blair will ask our president for political asylum.

To Americans, the English Parliament's bad attitude is a mystery. After all, our own President repeated Blair's goofy allegations that Saddam was buying nuclear bomb fixings from Africa -- among other WMD howlers and whoppers. But in America, if you believe Fox TV, only whiners, traitors and the last three Democrats had some kind of problem with official mendacity. In fact, that's why Blair was supposed to get the medal. Hell, anyone can go to war based on the facts; it takes a true ally like Mr. Tony to send kids into gunfire based on a packet of fictions.

How did Blair get into this fix? The answer is, he can't help himself: Blair's an Ameriphiliac. I watched the Prime Minister's mad affection for all things American while working for BBC and the Guardian/Observer in London, a Yank in King Tony's court. Over the past six years of his administration, I've seen his puppy love for Bill Clinton degenerate into pathetic poodledom at the heel of George Bush. His need to pad along behind Bush is the result of the strange pathologic politics that Blair calls, 'modernization.' Blair, you see, hates Britain.

This Prime Minister despises his storybook countryside and its grumbling farmers with their two little pigs and their tiny fields edged with dry stone. He cringes at the little bell ringing over the door of the village post office - so quaint and so maddeningly inefficient. He cannot fathom a nation that weeps when he shuts the last filthy coal pits.

Blair is frustrated to tears by what he sees as fossilized trade unions which chain workers to dead industries, rather than building new ones. Britain's Prime Minister dreams of birthing the Entrepreneurial State. Instead, he finds himself caretaker of a museum of nineteenth-century glories made somnolent by easy welfare and low ambitions.

So Tony gazes across the water with almost erotic envy at a thoroughly 'modernized' America Inc., where Wal-Marts and McDonald's and Microsoft roam free, creating a shiny New Economic Order.

I saw Blair's America-mania up close and inside in 1998 when I went undercover to investigate US corporate influence on his government for the Observer, the Guardian's Sunday paper. Working out of an expensive hotel suite overlooking the Tower of London, my confederates and I pretended to represent Blair's favorite American corporation, a Texas company called, 'Enron.' We wanted to find out how much it would cost in 'consulting fees' to overturn England's environmental laws for the benefit of our US client.

It turns out the price for bending the rules for Enron would be ludicrously low. Blair's ministers and cronies were selling policy changes dirt cheap because they knew that Tony, like an amateur hooker, was giving it away for free. While I was pretending to get Blair to change energy policy rules for Enron, I discovered the real Enron was doing the same thing. The sleazy Houston power pirates successfully talked Blair, for example, into reversing his sworn campaign pledge not to let American companies build proposed electricity plants on English soil. It was no wonder that, one of Blair's closest advisors, after he weighed my checkbook, had no hesitation calling me from 10 Downing Street to invite me in. When it came to Enron and other handsome 'modern' American corporations, he knew his boss Mr. Blair just could not say, 'no.'

From faith in Enron to faith in Enron's President is a short lover's leap. In January 2000, just before George Bush's inauguration, Rupert Murdoch's lobbyist warned the prime minister that for Blair to satisfy his lust for corporate America's affection, Britain must accede as well to the new US president's military mission.

Blair's decision to take that advice looked pretty good just after September 11, when tail-gunner Tony jumped into Bush's cockpit to avenge in Afghanistan the attacks on the USA. British sympathy for America was deep, sincere and wide ñ the one minute of silence for the World Trade Center victims was better observed in London than in New York. But joining in the conquest of Iraq has made Blair a prisoner of Bush's warmongering. Parliamentarians must now decide if their prime minister is a fraud or just a fool.

So Blair's one subtle act of independence is to refuse the award of Congress's golden collar. But Bush is hardly likely to let Tony off the leash.

Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Contact Palast or view his reports for BBC television and Britain's Guardian newspapers at



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