Bush and Blair Caught On Tape
Ok, look I know this reads as any number of satirical writings about a conversation between Blair and Bush. But they did actually get caught on tape having this conversation. I've included the BBC transcript and some reposted commentary.
Transcript: Bush and Blair's unguarded chat
George W Bush and Tony Blair
A transcript of the off-the-cuff conversation between US President George W Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair during a break at the G8 conference in Russia.
The president was caught on tape using an expletive as he described the actions of Hezbollah in attacking Israel.
They also discussed the exchange of gifts.
Bush: Yo, Blair. How are you doing?
Blair: I'm just...
Bush: You're leaving?
Blair: No, no, no not yet. On this trade thingy...[indistinct]
Bush: Yeah, I told that to the man.
Blair: Are you planning to say that here or not?
Bush: If you want me to.
Blair: Well, it's just that if the discussion arises...
Bush: I just want some movement.
Bush: Yesterday we didn't see much movement..
Blair: No, no, it may be that it's not, it may be that it's impossible.
Bush: I am prepared to say it.
Blair: But it's just I think that we need to be an opposition...
Bush: Who is introducing the trade?
Blair: Angela [Merkel, the German Chancellor]
Bush: Tell her to call 'em.
Bush: Tell her to put him on, them on the spot. Thanks for the sweater - it's awfully thoughtful of you.
Blair: It's a pleasure.
Bush: I know you picked it out yourself.
Blair: Oh absolutely - in fact I knitted it!!!
Bush: What about Kofi? [Annan] - he seems all right. I don't like his ceasefire plan. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything sorts out.... But I think...
Blair: Yeah, no I think the [indistinct] is really difficult. We can't stop this unless you get this international business agreed.
Blair: I don't know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.
Bush: I think Condi [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] is going to go pretty soon.
Blair: But that's, that's, that's all that matters. But if you... you see it will take some time to get that together.
Bush: Yeah, yeah.
Blair: But at least it gives people...
Bush: It's a process, I agree. I told her your offer to...
Blair: Well... it's only if I mean... you know. If she's got a..., or if she needs the ground prepared as it were... Because obviously if she goes out she's got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.
Bush: You see the irony is what they need to do is get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's all over...
Blair: Dunno... Syria....
Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing...
Bush: (with mouth full of bread) Yeah
Blair: Look - what does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine. If you get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way
Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is sweet.
Blair: He is honey. And that's what the whole thing is about. It's the same with Iraq.
Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.
Bush: We are not blaming the Lebanese government.
Blair: Is this...? [Blair taps the microphone in front of him and the sound is cut.]
The Wish is Father to the Deed
The BBC has posted a transcript of the chat between Bush and Blair that was accidently captured on tape. The completely non-surprising thing about it is how inarticulate and scatter brained both Bush and Blair sound -- like a couple of dopeheads discussing their favorite recipes for hash brownies, instead of two world leaders trying to deal with a serious Middle East crisis.
I find this particularly inexcusable on Blair's part -- after all, English is his mother tongue.
But the really crucial part of the dialogue, I think, was this bit:
Blair: Look -- what does he think? (It appears from the context that the PM is talking about Syrian President Bashar Assad) He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine. If you get a solution in Israel and Palestine. Iraq goes in the right way . . .
Bush: Yeah -- he's [indistinct]
Blair: Yeah . . . He's had it. That's what all this is about -- it's the same with Iran.
This is fascinating as well as terrifying. It suggests that Bush and his faithful water carrier both really believe their own bullshit -- not just in terms of viewing Hezbollah and Hamas as the mindless tools of Syria and Iran, but also in their rosy-lensed assessments of how things are going in the Middle East these days.
Consider what Blair seems to be saying, and Bush grunting between mouthfuls of food (Yeah . . . Yeah.) These fools actually seem to think that Syria and/or Iran ordered their Hezbollah and Hamas minions to stir up trouble with the Israelis because Assad and/or the mullahs are worried that:
A.) The "Cedar Revolution" will create a strong, united Lebanon (Presumably one in which Syrian influence and Hezbollah muscle vanish into thin air.)
B.) There will be a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. (Due, no doubt, to the heroic efforts of these two great humanitarians.)
C.) Things in Iraq will "go in the right way."
I mean, how much more out of touch with reality could the killer Bs possibly be? Their own wishful thinking about the consequences of their own pathetic follies appears to have left them with some wholly fantastical ideas about what motivates their enemies in the region. Either that, or they've completely bought the sugar coated lies being spoon fed them by their subordinates. My guess is that it's probably a bit of both -- creating a perfect, impenetrable feedback loop of flattery, deception and wish fulfillment.
Juan Cole says reading the transcript left him "shaken and trembling." I guess I would be too, if I hadn't already come to the conclusion that we're completely fucked. Pessimism does have its advantages.
Still, it's hard not to be impressed with the level of delusion picked up by that treacherous microphone. I hate to violate Godwin's Law (and you all know how much I hate it) but this conversation reads, psychologically at least, like table talk between Hitler and one of his remaining puppet allies, circa the winter of 1945. The Germans even had a name for this kind of thinking (I use the word loosely.) They called it "Cloud Cuckoo Land."
So, the whole blow-up is Syria's fault, for putting Hizbullah up to making mischief. No reference to Israeli actions in Gaza. No reference to, like, the wholesale destruction of Lebanon by the Israeli air force. And no blame for the Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora. And Bush thinks that Nasrullah of Hizbullah takes direct orders from Damascus. And he thinks that if Bashar al-Asad orders Hizbullah to stop firing its little katyushas and give back the two Israeli soldiers, everything will suddenly settle down.
It is an astonishingly simple-minded view of the situation, painted in black and white and making assumptions about who is who's puppet and what the Israeli motivations are. Israel doesn't appear as a protagonist. It is purely reactive. Stop provoking it, and it suddenly stops its war.
Since Israel is just being provoked and has no ambitions of its own, in this reading, it is useless to begin with a ceasefire. That treats the two sides as both provoking one another. Here, only Hizbullah matters, so you lean on Syria to lean on it, and, presto, peace breaks out.
It is a little window into the superficial, one-sided mind of the man, who has for six years been way out of his depth.
I come away from it shaken and trembling.
link to www.juancole.com
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