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Tony Blair: El Nuevo Caudillo
Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Oliver Kamm, writing in The Times of London, charges Tony Blair with turning Britain into another banana republic. And he's got a good argument.

The Serious Fraud Office has been investigating claims that a defense deal to sell Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia by BAE was deeply corrupt. The allegations were that Saudi princes were paid hefty kickbacks for the deal. The Saudis, of course, were shocked—shocked!—to hear that anyone thought there were any unseemly shenanigans. So they've been pressuring Mr. Blair to drop the probe. Mr. Blair has now complied, saying that the Saudi relationship was more valuable than any silly considerations about the rule of law.

Although, to be fair, he didn't say it in quite those words.

Mr. Kamm, however, points out that that is exactly what Mr. Blair accomplished, and that subordinating the rule of law to foreign policy interests is precisely the same sort of thing that the various "El Caudillo"s of South America were known for.
Over the past quarter century democratic governments have generally sought to subordinate discretionary policy to a framework of rules. This is the way monetary policy now works. Interest rates are no longer set by politicians. There is a stated inflation target, and an independent body is charged with meeting it. Likewise,the international system of trade and payments operates increasingly on similar principles. The World Trade Organisation is widely seen by anti-globalisers as a means of entrenching the privileges of the rich world. The opposite is true: a system of rules applying to all member states means that economically stronger countries cannot discriminate against foreign producers and in favour of their own vested interests. It is a way of subordinating potential conflict to the rule of law.

A rules-based system ought, over the long run, to be a more efficient form of governance, as well as a freer one, because it makes policy more predictable and allows private citizens to get on with their lives without an overbearing government. The principal lacuna in the creation of a rules-based system is, however, that in relations between states there is no ultimate sovereign authority that can implement the decisions of the international community. It is possible that Mr Blair has this in mind when he elevates the national interest to a principle higher than the rule of law. It is certainly the justification of his belief in humanitarian intervention against oppressive states.

But that reservation has no place in the practice of domestic government. The rule of law must run because it serves our interests best over the long run, even if in particular cases — say the workers of BAE — there are individual losers. A society in which the rule of law may be dispensed with if it runs counter to government objectives is a terrible precedent. Worse governments than Mr Blair’s will turn to it.
Undermining the rule of law for political or policy gain is a lot more than just a "terrible precedent".
 
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Blair truly, honestly, deeply believes that everything he does is good and right. That’s why he is such a danger to this country.

Want a banana? /sigh
 
Written By: Kav
URL: http://livingrealworld.blogspot.com
Actually I take umbrage with this:
Worse governments than Mr Blair’s will turn to it.
I am yet to be convinced that there can be a worse British government than Blair’s in the modern age. This is only partly snark on my part.
 
Written By: Kav
URL: http://livingrealworld.blogspot.com
Mr. Blair is in charge of an elected government at a time of extreme international stress. He is not teaching in a sixth grade civics class. So long as no human rights were violated, the Rule of Law can withstand an occasional—and rare—twist and tug by a pragmatic politician.

Something about this issue ’stinks,’ anyway. Bribe a Saudi prince? Just WHO has enough money to bribe Rockerfeller, the Sultan of Brunei, Bill Gates, or any Saudi prince with enough influence to deliver on a mega-billion dollar arms contract? What if the ’bribe’ is actually just a ’babe’? Is Britain to rip apart its entire foreign policy just to expose the picadillos of a prince?

Politics is for pragmatics, not for ideological purists. Whenever the purists do grab hold of politics, millions of innocents get buried in mass graves (Adolph Hitler, Ruhollah Khomeini, etc).

’Be free.’
 
Written By: a Duoist
URL: http://www.duoism.org
So long as no human rights were violated, the Rule of Law can withstand an occasional—and rare—twist and tug by a pragmatic politician.
He is sheilding the rulers of a fundamentalist Islamic state. Possibly he is doing this for sound pragmatic reasons or possibly the chairman of BAE has bought himself a knighthood out of Saudi petty cash, we’ll never know.

If he were smarter he would have let the investigation proceed and then redact any incriminating 28 pages from the final report, like they would in any civilised country.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
I am SHOCKED at your cynicism... you folks don’t think a multi BILLION pound contract with BAE would have influenced the Government’s decision? I realize that the Guardian and Blair aren’t always on the same page, but IIRC, last week the Guardian attacked Blair, for creating a NANNY State. I mean if the Guardian thinks your off the deep end, I think it’s time to consider alternative governments.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Undermining the rule of law for political or policy gain is a lot more than just a "terrible precedent".

Mr. Padilla agrees with your assessment.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
See, you’re coming at this wrong. You still really think Britain is a free country?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Mr. Padilla agrees with your assessment.
Uh, Francis, so does Dale .

DALE RESPONDS: And don’t forget this. Or this. Or this. But what’s the point of going over this, really. These people aren’t concerned with my actual position on Padilla. They just enjoy the rhetorical bomb-throwing, because the moral vanity of it has some appeal for them. Feh.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
umm, ooops? my apologies.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://

 
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