Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tony Blair dislikes dictators...

...But not all of them.

This week Tony Blair went on record as saying that regime change alone would have justified the war in Iraq.

Basically, Hans Blix and his fellow weapon inspectors may have rummaged around as frantically as they could. They were wasting their time.

Because, bottom line, Blair's undying love for democracy and freedom of speech as well as his deep dislike for tyrants like Saddam Hussein "and his two sons" meant "regime change" was the real justification for war. He would have invaded Iraq anyway. In fact, it was "a price worth paying" (by others, of course).

Blair's sincere love for democracy is also probably behind his trip to oil-rich Azerbaijan last week. He's so much against dictators and in favour of "regime change" that he pocketed £90,000 from the local masters in exchange for a 20-minute speech (working out as £75 a second).

And of course, Tony didn't say a single word about human right abuses in Azerbaijan, a country that -since gaining independence- has only been ruled with an iron fist and by two presidents only: in succession, Heydar Aliyev and Ilham Aliyev. Father and son.

The first time the dynasty conceded some elections, bowing down to international pressure, it turned into a shoo in with ridiculous percentages like 80%, against a backdrop of intimidation, and abuse, especially against journalists and bloggers. This report by Human Rights Watch called Crushing Dissent will give you an idea.

According to a 2009 report by Amnesty International, in Azerbaijan "freedom of expression continued to be heavily restricted. Opposition and independent journalists continued to face harassment, physical assault and intimidation on account of their journalistic activity". Also, "religious groups or confessions outside officially endorsed structures continued to be harassed".

But if questioned about it, Tony Blair will probably answer that "faith gave him strength" and that his 20-min speech in Azerbaijan was dictated by the importance of not leaving the local regime isolated from the international community.

And anyway, why should we care when there's the X-Factor final coming up?

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