Regrettably, Tony Blair is to be Knighted with the highest possible ranking in the New Year Honours List, Buckingham Palace has said.
“Sir” Tony held the keys to No 10 between 1997 and 2007, and has on his hands the blood of hundreds of British troops who pointlessly lost their lives in Iraq, as well as the blood of millions of innocent civilian victims in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. He will be appointed a Knight Companion of what used to be the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Britain's oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry.
The appointment is made by the Queen, who given her advanced her age can hardly be expected to over-rule her government advisors by objecting to an offensive name on the List. In fairness to those responsible for submitting the Honours List, they usually get it right. Knighthoods have regularly been bestowed upon past Prime Ministers, with Sir John Major – Blair’s direct predecessor – the last to receive this special honour.
This time, however, it seems to be a gross and morbid mistake.
The majority of the British public and much of the world blame Blair for the deaths of millions of civilians and thousands of service personnel during and after the Iraq War. The arch-crony eagerly talked-up the threat of Saddam's "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and the justification for "wars of democratic intervention", when in fact the two drivers behind this illegal war were the insatiable lust for oil and the naked greed of the military-industrial complex. As Bush's silver-tongued sidekick, Blair played the vital role in adding the extra layer of sugar that persuaded first the American public and then their British counterparts to swallow this implausible confection.
The damning Chilcot Report of 2016 spelled out the tragic consequences of the "special relationship" - not the healthy one between the USA and the UK, but the unhealthy one between the two dangerous Cronies-in-Chief. The defining phrase in the Report is Blair's private memo in 2002 to President Bush: "I am with you whatever".
These five simple words encapsulate Blair's evangelical journey from his Chicago Speech in 1999 when he was already warming up the war-war-talk, but cunningly sugaring it, as usual, with the a suitably "democratic" spin. Yes, indeed, he was with fellow gun-slinger Bush all the way. Every step of the way, right to the assault on Baghdad; the complete chaos that followed; and in short order the mindless destruction of a viable though imperfect society. Then Bush, Blair and their crony acolytes, in their arrogance and naivety, squandered even more blood and treasure trying to enforce a Western-style democracy on a country that functioned well-enough without one, thank you very much. And so finally, St. Tony's evangelistic pilgrimage came to its inglorious end: catastrophic disaster for Iraq and its people. And a bitter conclusion for those dead or disabled servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice to achieve .... precisely nothing.
But think back to Blair's Glory Days, of July 2003, just a few months after the war began. The Prime Minister addressed both houses of Congress in Washington and vigorously defended the dodgy premise for the dubious war. He got more than a dozen standing ovations. Heady stuff.
A few hours later, flying back over the Atlantic, he was told of a melancholy event at home. Dr David Kelly, a weapons expert at the Ministry of Defence, had been found dead, two days after giving evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee about his doubts over Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Blair fed us all the sweet lie. We swallowed it. Now, somehow, 19 years on, the spun-sugar Spin-Meister has got away with it. No doubt he thinks a Knighthood is his due, and a fitting accompaniment to the king's ransom he has amassed in consultancy fees from his "commercial" interventions in the Middle East. (As opposed to his last time out, when his interventions were of course purely "humanitarian".) And equally, no doubt, there are thousands of bereaved families and disabled soldiers who think Blair's knighthood is an insult to the dead and damaged. And millions more who do not believe he deserves either the honour or the ill-gotten gains.
A travesty though this appointment is, the Honours List does recognise virtue and achievement: the brave; the loyal; the charitable; the talented; the victorious. Just because there's one rotten apple in it, let's not throw the whole barrel away.