There are further letters in today's Irish Times concerning Tony Blair's visit to Ireland in connection with the publication of his book. One of these, from Michael Lillis, compares Blair favourably with his predecessors amongst British prime ministers with reference to trying to 'resolve the horrific legacy of British misrule in this country':
Tony Blair gave a higher priority to resolving the issue in terms of priority of time, patience, respect, intellectual energy and unflinching determination than any British leader in history. It took many years and frequently seemed a lost cause. He succeeded. Of course we can only pray that the results which he and Bertie Ahern created will endure. That will happen only if leadership both in London and in Dublin continues to give the delicate plants that they created through the Belfast and St Andrew's Agreements unremitting joint focus and unyielding joint support.
We owe him more than we do any British leader or party in history. It is a compliment to Irish nationalists that he is launching his autobiography partly in Dublin. And we owe him the courtesy of assuming that his involving his own country in the Iraq war – even if an unfortunate mistake – was sincere in its intent. By all means those who are moved to do so should protest. Any protests which fail to reflect the minimum of the respect we owe this man would be shameful to this country.
Good heavens! Courtesy, respect, assuming sincerity in the architect of what may have been a political mistake.
For another sort of letter, read what John Arden - a signatory of the original appeal not to facilitate Blair's promotion of his book - has to say. Arden makes the correct point that that appeal wasn't an attempt at censorship. Urging someone not to promote a book isn't the same as calling for the book to be legally banned. What is rich about Arden's letter lies elsewhere. He says:
Tony Blair is a perpetrator of aggressive war; the Nuremberg trials clearly established aggression as a war crime; I am sure that Blair's forthcoming book will make some attempt to justify the criminality.
That the Nuremberg trials clearly established aggression as a war crime falls some way short of showing that Tony Blair is guilty of a war crime, as Arden would soon appreciate if he were said to be guilty of some felony because the felony in question had been established as being one by the most very eminent court of courts. The arrogance and ignorance of these people is breathtaking. On their mere say-so that a man is a war criminal they urge others to treat him as though his legal status as such had already been determined. Another of the signatories of the original letter to the Irish Times, Ronan Bennett, may be found here (see eight paragraphs from the end) seeming to commend the desirability of trial by jury. Never mind this for Blair, however. Just go with the politics of hate. Arden spices up his letter by putting Blair's book in company with... Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (Thanks: BT / SC.)