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          ...What Tony Learned

They call him "Bush's poodle." Headlines scream
"Good Riddance." They're saying he was thrown out of
"10 Downer Street."
After that, they get mean.
It's easy for some of his countrymen to jeer at Tony
Blair as he leaves office as prime minister of Britain.
But not by us, and not by friends of civilization. He has
been a staunch friend of the United States, and he
looks at the world with a visionary's eye. He didn't
accomplish everything he tried to do, and sometimes
he seemed a little eager to spin his "celebrity," but he
has his values on straight.
Like George W. Bush, he couldn't foresee all the problems that would follow
September 11 in the United States or "July 7" in his own country.
"If you had told
me a decade ago that I would be tackling terrorism," he wrote in the Economist
magazine, in an essay titled "What I've Learned," not long ago, "I would have readily
understood, but would have thought you meant Irish terrorism."

    Actually, what he learned was that getting
    the Irish Republican Army to put down its
    guns and renounce violence was
    considerably easier than getting the
    Islamists to do the same. He learned that
    "international politics should not be simply a
    game of interests, but also of beliefs, things
    we stand for and fight for." Not an easy sell
    in a spectacularly fractured world.

    Sad but true, Tony Blair is more admired in
    this country than in his own, and the Brits
    who dislike him dislike most his firm
    friendship with the Americans.

Just as Churchill understood early on the menace of the Nazis and later of the
Soviet Union, Tony Blair understands the deadly Islamist jihad, that we ignore
the Islamist "will to win" at our peril. He boldly accuses his critics of naivete
when they argue that removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein has enabled
terrorism to grow.

"This is a seductive but dangerous argument," he writes. "It means that because these
reactionary and evil forces will fight hard through terrorism to prevent those countries
and their people getting on their feet after the dictatorships are removed, we should
leave those countries and their people getting on their feet after the dictatorships are
removed." That's an accurate description of the logic of those who advocate cutting and
running from Iraq: "It means our will to fight for what we believe in is measured by our
enemy's will to fight us, but in inverse proportion."

Hitler thought exactly that after Munich. He was shocked when Britain didn't crumble
under the Blitz. Osama bin Laden was shocked (and awed) when America retaliated
strongly after 9/11. After all, we all but virtually ignored the terrorist attacks on embassies
in Africa, on the USS Cole and the first bombing of the World Trade Center.
I read Tony Blair's defense of himself and country at the same time that Queen Elizabeth
bestowed a knighthood on Salman Rushdie. My first thought was that it was a terrible
decision, that the fatwa would be reprised calling for the murder of Rushdie. But that was
a craven response to bullying, an internal self-censorship. We can't start basing literary
awards on how thuggish certain Muslims will react. No award to a "fallen away Muslim" will
be applauded by the madmen.

Tony Blair knows the power of a strong offense, and
he understands that the brute power of violence
plays well in the propaganda war.
Islamist terrorism in
a Madrid railroad station three days before Spain's
parliamentary elections in 2004 changed the dynamics of
the election—and changed the government. The Spanish
voters threw Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar out of office
for joining George Bush's "coalition of the willing," holding
the PM personally responsible for the terrorist retaliation.
Spain quickly dropped out of the coalition.

Tony Blair is right to acknowledge that the terrorists
have warped the thinking in the West, and right to
warn against the coward's impulse that "makes us
blame ourselves."
He calls this a "dulling of the senses," creating a strong public
demand to withdraw from Iraq. Who gets blamed for the lack of progress in the
Palestinian problem? Inevitably, the West. When the crisis in Lebanon is provoked by
these same malignant forces, who gets the blame? Inevitably, Israel.

He stresses the crucial importance of fighting the terrorist menace wherever it threatens
us, and argues that the West must do better in making Western values more accessible
to the darker regions of the world. "But this won't happen unless we stand up for our own
values, are proud of them and advocate them with conviction." Hear, Hear.
We'll miss
you, Mr. Blair.
appears courtesy of
Suzanne Fields and the
Washington Times
(June 28, 2007).

The Washington-based
author and speaker writes
a twice-weekly column for
Washington Times and
is syndicated nationally by
Tribune Media Services.

Suzanne has been
featured on
CNN & Co.,  
Nightline, Larry King
, 48 Hours, Extra,
Crossfire and CBC's
Prime Time.

She is the author of
Like Father, Like
Daughter: How Father
Shapes the Woman His
Daughter Becomes

(Little Brown).
How the
Cookie Crumbles
, a
collection of her
columns, was published
by the

She holds a Ph.D. in
English literature at the
Catholic University of
America, where she
also taught literature,
and an M.A. in English
and American literature
from George
Washington University.

Suzanne is married and
has two grown
daughters and a son.