As Tony Blair leaves the post of Prime Minister, the rumor is that he may be appointed “Peace Envoy” to the Middle East.
“Peace” — ? We are talking about the region that has been saturated for years in “peace talks” “land for peace” “seeds of peace” the “roadmap to peace” and especially the mother of all peace labels, the “peace process.” Hamas and Hezbollah snatch Israeli soldiers and attack Israeli civilians, Syria and Iran infiltrate weapons and terrorists into Iraq, the Saudis continue to funnel millions into their global network of kill-the-infidel madrassas. And in the midst of this we are invited to ponder along with the UN’s IAEA whether terrorist-spawning Iran — where terror trainees routinely chant “Death to America! Death to Israel!” — simply wants nuclear energy for “peaceful uses.”
As Joshua Muravchik wrote in Monday’s Wall Street Journal: “A large portion of modern wars erupted because aggressive tyrannies believed that their democratic opponents were soft and weak.”
Do we want peace? You bet. But it won’t come by way of sending another “peace” envoy whose title alone implies that we will do nothing but jaw-jaw in response to acts of war. Tony Blair carries one credential that may not earn him much in the West these days, but might still command respect amid the wars of the Middle East: He backed the war that toppled Saddam Hussein. That caused consternation enough among the despots of the Islamic world to make room in the immediate aftermath for Qaddafi to surrender his nuclear program, for the Lebanese to try to kick out their Syrian overlords, and for Iran to keep its mitts briefly off Iraq — before all concerned concluded that the U.S. and Britain had no more stomach for leading coalitions to overthrow Middle Eastern dictators and drag them out of spider-holes, and the “war process,” to which we responded with the “peace process,” kicked back into gear.
Labels may not be remotely enough to change the equation in the Middle East, but language does have its uses — and it is high time we scrapped the peace cliches that imply there is no cost to waging war against the free world. If Tony Blair is to be dispatched to tread the diplomatic routes of the region, let’s arm him (whether he likes it or not) with a title that might at least suggest there are limits to the threats and attacks that we will tolerate. Call him Tony Blair, “War Envoy” to the Middle East.