So the axis of stupidity loses yet another leader. Aznar, Berlusconi, Blair, soon to be Bush (even though he’ll have to leave, but will he be missed? This blogger thinks not!), now it’s Howard’s turn. The political generation which thought the ‘climate of fear’ narrative was the right one to supplant the chaos of the post-Cold War era and the most expedient with which to deal with disasters like 9/11 and Bali are finding out slowly but surely that they were wrong. Blair tied himself to Bush’s Iraq misadventure and out of it came 7/7, the attempt to follow it up 2 weeks later and a total disconnection between Britain’s electorate and its representatives. A large proportion of the British public came out on the streets in February 2003, an almost unparalleled modern coalition, to inform the politicians of the day that they didn’t agree with their strategy. They were cynically ignored, and in the case of Iraq this led to over 100,000 innocent deaths.
Except in previous wars of Western aggression the chattering classes weren’t able to find out the truth – there was a cultural deference to elected leaders, and very little access to information at the other end of the country, let alone in another country. The Great British public in 2003 however saw Blair’s Iraq adventure for what it was, and in 2005 they emasculated him electorially; he could only be thankful that Britain’s then opposition was so right wing it was unelectable, keeping his position safe, albeit not his power. Now it’s John Howard’s turn. This is the man who thought sending illegal immigrants to an offshore island camp would be a good idea. This is the man who thought Bush was right in ignoring Kyoto and dismissing renewable energy. This is the man whose party thought the US Republican narrative of calling its opponents ‘terrorist sympathisers’ made any sense at all.
It’s good news for us all that he’s gone. Islamophobia, ignoring climate change, relying on a climate of fear and making friends with American neoconservatives – these are policies that no Western electorate has the stomach for. If he doesn’t want the same fate to befall him in 2009/2010 Gordon Brown finally has some lessons to learn.