Tony Blair, John Prescott and other “flags of convenience” (Mouth of the ‘Beast’ #7)
In his 2009 autobiography, Docks To Downing Street, former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott writes “It would be a mistake to underestimate the effect of 9/11 on the psychology of the Government or Tony Blair.”
In so doing Prescott concedes a point that seems to have not penetrated the consciousness of those labelling Blair a hubristic, blood thirsty war criminal: that is, the fact that he was driven by profound fear, some conscious, most of it probably unconscious, to weld Britain’s fate to that of George W Bush’s terror-traumatized administration.
Blair was psyched shitless, if you will pardon the expression.
He was ‘bricking it’, as some of my neighbors here in Norfolk, England might say.
But in saying that I am not saying Mr Blair was or is a coward.
I am saying I believe he was scared (and scarred) witless subconsciously, because frankly, following 9/11, so was I.
And I would wager so too was Prescott and other members of Blair’s Cabinet at the time.
In the quote above, Prescott concedes as much, if only implicitly.
And Prescott’s recent refuting of that empathising, psychologically perceptive interpretation of Blair’s decision-making post-9/11, presumably including the pious PM’s decision to back the 2003 US led invasion of Iraq, does not alter the intuitive or objective validity of the collective-responsibility-emphasizing Prescott’s previously published opinion of Blair’s and his Cabinet’s state of mind.
The totemic, ‘Thumper’ trade unionist Prescott’s suggestion in a July 10 Mirror article that he and other MPs were deceived by ‘Bambi’ Blair certainly does not change my mind on the matter.
I think his article is not so much about a ‘change of heart’ as it is about a change of strategy.
I think it is more about the war in Lord Prescott’s beloved Labour Party than it is about the war in Iraq or any of its consequences.
Whether Prescott is conscious of this cognitive dissonance himself can be debated.
The ‘fog of war’ being generated by the long-running battle for the soul of the Labour Party may be clouding the former seaman’s judgement.
Whatever Prescott’s intentions, from my standpoint, the article is a “flag of convenience”, much like the misleading, fraud and tax evasion facilitating, ‘false’ flag flying shipping practice that he challenged during his ministerial career.
And I believe his declaration of disappointment and dissent is comparable to the questionable “flag of faith” that Blair has struggled to keep hoisted, as he pursued a political career and discharge history shaping leadership responsibilities guided by what might best be called an “aspirational Christian piety”.
Both men are to some degree guilty of sending “mixed messages”, if you ask me.
But I believe we are in danger of judging them both too harshly if we ignore or do not give adequate consideration to the messages theyreceived.
Life: a ‘game of glorious uncertainties’
Deeply traumatized by the 9/11 theatre of terror myself, I reached the conclusion that it confused and effectively fossilized, fragmented or “froze” Blair’s and others’ powers of reason and decision-making long before I read Prescott’s autobiography.
Nothing Prescott has written in his July 10 Sunday Mirror confession inclines me to change that basic opinion.
I certainly will not be turning from empathy to fear or indignation and turning on Blair angrily, as Prescott appears to be doing now.
Moreover, as indicated above, I question the authenticity of Prescott’s claim of anger at Blair, declared amid the revived, widespread denunciations of the former British PM that followed the publication of the news-headlines-dominating Chilcot Report on July 6.
Observers may legitimately ask “Could Prescott’s post-electoral political ambitions be causing him to confuse fear with anger, in much the same way he, Blair, Bush and others managed to confuse courage and fear in 2003?”
Words attributed to the prophet Jeremiah in the Bible come to mind here forcefully: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” says Jeremiah 17:9.
The atheistic Prescott may disagree with me, but I believe that concise, ancient biblical description of the maelstrom that is the human psyche is as relevant today as anything his autobiography offers.
Jeremiah certainly offers an intriguing perspective on Prescott’s notorious gynophobia, self-documented in his autobiography as “always suspecting the Sisters increasing demands” (page 351).
Added to the stereotypically feminine battle with bulimia that he reported, and the political ‘Bromance’ or, more accurately, marriage of convenience he shared with Blair and other “beautiful people” in the Labour Party, Prescott’s gynophobia might be viewed as a trap door, concealing subterranean urges that the notorious hard-man ignores blissfully.
And with the rise of cricket mimicking “glorious uncertainties” around issues of gender and identity that have followed the legalization of gay marriage, the foregrounding of gay parenting, gender reassignment ventures, racial ‘reorientations’ and other seismic identity innovations, the question of human beings’ capacity for self-deception addressed by Jeremiah has taken on renewed significance and urgency.
Add to this the possible election of America’s first female president, Hillary Clinton, a reputedly feeling-fragmented femme or mechanical matrix.
Now there is a heart and conscience that many people seem to think is alienated from itself and shrouded in mystery.
Who is she really, in her “heart of hearts” – or, if I might borrow the title of the well known novella by Josef Conrad, a seaman-turned-novelist with whom Prescott might identify more easily, in her Heart of Darkness?
Might she be a “man” trapped in a woman’s body?
If she wins her battle for the White House, might Americans one day wake up to the news that she has opted for gender reassignment, as the former “Bruce” now Caitlyn Jenner has done, spectacularly?
Note that in that article, I make it clear that “I have in mind both male and female passion and excitability, the clitoris being interchangeable or homologous with the penis in some species, apparently.”
(I am currently being instructed in these matters of faith and “glorious uncertainties” by a Consultant Physician, whom I will simply call Dr G.)
The mainstream media has been focusing on whether or not voters feel that they can trust the former First Lady.
My concern for her, as for Blair and Prescott and indeed all politicians, is does she really trust herself?
Does she know herself, truly?
Prescott, at least, concedes that he is “a mass of contradictions” in his autobiography.
And what about Clinton’s White House seeking rival Donald Trump?
Does anyone actually believe that the ‘hard-man’ exterior projected by him conceals anything other than a 9/11 traumatised, Islam-obsessed ‘inner woman’, possibly echoing his mother’s speech?
And what are the implications of Jeremiah’s psychosocial diagnosis for the Roman Catholic Church if the prospect of an introduction of female deacons that Pope Francis is exploring comes to fruition?
Based on my own experience of the moral ambivalence that lies beyond some Sisters’ equality rhetoric, I have not been encouraged to expect the improvements across Catholicism that Ms Clinton’s and other women’s optimism about the shattering of that ecclesiastical and other “glass ceilings” suggests.
Did Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power usher in a kind of utopia in Britain and the Commonwealth?
Among other things, the fact of the Falklands war suggests otherwise.
But my own suspicions and gynophobic views about women, and the justifications I offer for the same are well documented in my book Women-I-Zen and elsewhere.
As are the empathy with and forgiveness for persons of both sexes, or none(?), that I advise persistently.
Fatherly ‘flags of Convenience’
My primary concern here though, is with the ‘Blair-Prescott identity’ and paternal political inheritances and legacies.
It is with the fog of fear that followed 9/11 and which I believe has come into play again, albeit at a subconscious level, since the publication of the Chilcot Report last month.
I am mainly concerned with the human capacity for self-knowledge and self-trust that is critical to self-forgiveness and empathy with and for others equally.
My focus is the relationship between faith and fear that can become obscured, or even lost, like the fictional Jason Bourne’s sense of self, by trauma and tragedy.
A key concern is to explore what the Blair-Prescott coupling, like the Trump-Clinton inverted ‘marriage’, (a kind of negative synergy yielding, malformed miracle or mirage, essentially) tells us about the societies that ‘throw-up’ these personalities.
And readers mindful of Prescott’s previously cited battle with bulimia and my previous references to “cognitive cholesterol”, and person’s being “affectively anaemic” will have some sense of both the predictive and retrospective resonances of my reference here to the “throwing-up” of society.
Readers will also want to bear in mind my ongoing study of British, Americans’ and others’ embrace of a self-destructive, suicide facilitating, shallow stoicism.
And Randazza’s American nationality should not detract from the essential accuracy of my assessment of the subtlety of the ‘Blair-Prescott’ psychosocial or political inheritances and legacies.
It does not alter the relevance of my fundamental point any more than Trump’s much hyped heterosexuality alters the validity of anything I have suggested about his backer Thiel’s homosexuality.
Thiel’s nationality merely points to the universalist applicability and relevance of my critique.
And I use the word “universalist” advisedly.
Reggie Williams, Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary knows something of my insistence on the indispensable attention to context that separates conscientious constructive discussion of gender, race, religion or any other matters from the reckless, manipulative, demagogic rhetoric of identity hijackers, pirates and thieves.
I was obliged to challenge professor Williams, via Twitter, about certain assertions he made about the extent to which people are ‘seeing whiteness’ as normative, in an article published by The Christian Century.
That kind of opportunistic “universalism” or proximate “plagiaristic” appeal comes to the fore more prominently in the next article in this “Mouth of the beast” series.
There I assess the role of Barbados in events that presaged 9/11 – especially Barbados’ contribution to the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism, which from my perspective, was hijacked by precisely such ‘identity politicking’ thieves.
I also explore Blair’s relationship with alleged homosexual paedophile ‘Barbadian’ Sir Cliff Richard and Prescott’s relationship with sleeping socialists like Dr Aaron Kamugishe, featured in the above video delivering a talk at the Birmingham-based University of Warwick.
Kamugishe’s apparent Prescott-like bulimic propensity to consume and regurgitate ideologically high calorie, cognitive-cholesterol-rich racial rhetoric is of deep concern to me.
I certainly cannot agree with the view that black people cannot be racist – anymore than I could accept theologian Williams’ largely legitimate but ultimately context thin, morally anaemic stereotyping of “whiteness” as normative; or lawyer Randazza’s one-sided views on Thiel’s right to conceal his homosexuality.
Such reasoning parodies authentic argument.
It prostitutes principled, context-rich, rational inquiry.
It is not only the fare of pirates and plagiarists, like Melania Trump and Fareed Zakaria, but also stock-in-trade for opportunist “informants” like fantasist and con man Rafid Ahmed Alwan Al-Janabi.
He’s the Iraqi codenamed “Curveball” by his German handlers, possibly because of his ability to spin a yarn convincingly.
As it happened, the primary Iraqi “weapon of mass destruction”, supposedly seen by Alwan, turned out to be his mouth, as he lied through his teeth.
Potentially explosive, such worrying wit-based weather systems recall the fraught, potentially ferocious Blair-Prescott psychosocial synergy that springs from the kind of Margaret Thatcher-Hilary Benn ideological ‘subsuming’, coupling or convergence that I have explored previously.
Unleashed torrentially on the tragically murdered Labour MP Jo Cox by the ‘Northern wind’ driven, brutal bellwether Thomas Mair, metaphysically, such destructive, negative synergy exemplifies cyclonic reality beyond metaphor.
It is born of a convergence of hot and cool airs or ‘spirits’, and energized by a Corbynesque ‘conservation of angular momentum’ that extends from an idealized socialist axis.
Put differently, it flows from an axiomatically anal retentive, shallow fundamentalist, self-contradicting anti-social socialist “reality”.
The blinkered ‘eye’ of this hurricane, exemplified by Corbyn’s coupling or ‘partnership’ with the consciously or unconsciously race-racketeering Labour MP Diane Abbott, consists in a dualistic, ambivalent British manners matrix that can only ever assure a fragile peace.
A certain, “too polite” Norwich-based, lifelong Labour Party supporter working in the education field may know exactly what I mean.
She, and others, possibly including persons who are abandoning the troubled, stormy-sea-of-sentimentality beset Labour ship for the emergent, blunt-knife-tipped, supposedly frank, truth-to-power-speaking Nigel Farage and his Trump-like-hip, real politic preaching UKIP may understand why from my standpoint, Prescott’s anger at Blair, however long deferred was destined to be manifested almost inevitably.
Moreover, I think Prescott’s anger claim may be an example of the confused conscience or “flawed intelligence” that I spoke about shortly after 9/11, when I performed at the 2001 Woodstock Concert of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.
I see it as a primarily politically motivated, cosmetic “flag of convenience” by a man I consider a father figure, to a significant degree.
Like Barbadians the late reverends Holmes Williams, and Bishop Granville Williams and UWI Vice Chancellor professor Sir Hilary Beckles; like Norfolk-based Muslim leaders Abdassamad Clarke and Uthman Morrison, Bishop Alan Hopes and others I look up to, though not uncritically, I hold both Blair and Prescott in high esteem and empathise with them in their faltering efforts to project a courageous, credible paternal lead.