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I feel Tony Blair may have been a little candid for his own good in yesterday’s interview with the Associated Press.
It has long been asserted that when western premiers talk about “spreading democracy”, that this often serves as cover for far less lofty interests. Yet most power brokers tend to remain a bit more euphemistic than Tony Blair. After being asked how he would react to the election of the Muslim Brotherhood, Blair elected to give the interviewer a lecture on what democracy really meant. What egypt needed was a “proper democracy”. “Proper democracy”, he proclaimed, “isn’t just about the freedom to vote in and out your government, it’s about freedom of the media, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, about open markets“.
Taken to its logical conclusions, this approach yields some very strange results indeed. Britain and America cease being democracy’s in the 1930s, when they ramped up tariffs and quotas.
Considering Blair’s addiction to spreading what he regards as democracy at the point of a gun, the former Prime Minister seems to take after the bumptious Lord Palmerston, who as foreign secretary, and then as Prime Minister, sent gunboats into China in order to force them to open up their markets. He would do well to note what his “political hero” William Gladstone said about this military adventure: namely that he could not think of “a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated to cover this country with permanent disgrace”. Perhaps had he lived until 2011 some of Britain’s rather recent foreign skirmishes might have sprung to mind.
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