Monday, November 20, 2006

Tony Blair and "moral imperialism"

Some phrases so perfectly capture their subject they are as much epiphanies as words. They are jewels of language. Such a phrase captured my attention while reading a story in The Guardian about British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Iraq debacle. Speaking at a private dinner held by the Fabian Society, Industry Minister Margaret Hodge referred to Blair's penchant for imposing British values and ideas on other countries as "moral imperialism."

As it turned out, the dinner wasn't quite private -- a reporter was present -- and Ms. Hodge's comments made the papers, all rather embarrassing for both the minister and her boss. Apparently she went on at length criticizing the prime minister's foreign policy, claiming she had only supported him because "he was our leader and I trusted him." This was quite the confession from someone who has long spoken out in favour of the war.

But back to Ms. Hodge's penetrating turn of phrase: moral imperialism. As Western nations bog themselves down in Afghanistan and Iraq, indulge Israel at the expense of the Palestinians and hint darkly of preemptive strikes on Iran, this is a phrase that deserves great currency in the foreign policy debates.


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