Stop Blair? No thanks.

Now that ratification of Lisbon has moved a big step closer (not only with the Irish yes, but also the news that Czech President Vaclav Klaus is likely to bow to pressure not to hold it up), the idea of Tony Blair being the first permanent President of the European Council is looking a lot more likely. Predictably, a large strand of liberal opinion is furious about this.  As an e-petition currently being circulated has it,

In violation of international law, Tony Blair committed his country to a war in Iraq that a large majority of European citizens opposed. This war has claimed hundreds of thousands of victims and displaced millions of refugees. It has been a major factor in today’s profound destabilisation of the Middle East, and has weakened world security. In order to lead his country into war, Mr Blair made systematic use of fabricated evidence and the manipulation of information …

The steps taken by Tony Blair’s government, and his complicity with the Bush administration in the illegal programme of “extraordinary renditions”, have led to an unprecedented decline in civil liberties.

All true.  But for all that, Blair is far and away our best option for the job.

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World to America: Grow Up! (updatedx3)

As America digests the news that Chicago won’t be holding the Olympics, the right has reacted with unbridled joy, while other commentators just seem dumbfounded. I especially like Politico’s roundup, which claims that “veteran Olympic watchers” have been left stunned by the decision.

This claim rests on quotes from Olympic historian, Bill Mallon who grumbles about the voting procedure, suggests with a straight face that the IOC should be remodelled on the US Congress, and puts the whole thing down to anti-Americanism.

If the U.S. president, who is universally recognized as the most powerful person on the face of the earth, comes to their meeting and entreats them to give him the games to his own home city, which has by far the best bid, and they turn around and say not only are we not going to give you the games, but you finish last – that reveals that they’re so euro-centric and international-centric, it’s ridiculous.

Leaving aside the ongoing, and bizarre, insecurity about Europe, d0 we really have to apologize for the International Olympic Committee not acting as an extension of American power?

(Especially, when Obama told delegates “We stand at a moment in history when the fate of each nation is inextricably linked to the fate of all nations — a time of common challenges that require common effort.”)

Unfortunately, we have more of this whingeing to look forward to. The United States has had two Olympics since 1984 – with the second, in Atlanta, widely recognised at the worst games in recent times. Now, angered at not having hosted a World Cup (soccer, for American readers – you know, the sport kids play) since 1994, the US is bidding for the 2018 or 2022 championships. Obama, Disney and even Henry Kissinger (!) have been lined up in  support.

The decision is due in December, just as the Copenhagen climate summit will be in full swing. Maybe the United States should throw major sporting events into the climate negotiating pot: “every time you don’t let us have an Olympics or World Cup, then another small island state will be left to drown…”

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Kill human rights workers

More depressing news from West Africa – surely the world’s most unstable region – as Gambia’s Big Man president Yahya Jammeh declares he wants to kill human rights workers in the country. This is what he said:

I will kill anyone, who wants to destabilise this country. If you think that you can collaborate with so-called human rights defenders, and get away with it, you must be living in a dream world. I will kill you, and nothing will come out of it. We are not going to condone people posing as human rights defenders to the detriment of the country. If you are affiliated with any human rights group, be rest assured that your security and personal safety would not be guaranteed by my government. We are ready to kill saboteurs.

And this in the country that is host to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (sic), which was set up by the African Union.  The AU is traditionally lily-livered when it comes to dealing with Africa’s many nefarious leaders, and it will be interesting to see how it responds to this open threat to its staffers.

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