Now Blair Cavalcade Turns Up In Mongolia!
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
Regular readers will know that I take a jaundiced view of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Of course he left office some time ago, and in normal circumstances this might preclude any necessity to write about him much.
But Blair went on to become the Quartet’s Special Representative to Israel and Palestine, which keeps him in the public eye. In between his monthly stays at Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel, Mr Blair continues to build on his fortune of around £50 million. This isn’t much by American billionaire standards, which is why I presume that Britain’s former Prime Minister seems so determined to make an even bigger fortune.
How he is managing to do this has been a matter for conjecture. Certainly there does appear to be an odd conjuncture between his charitable work and his advisorial/consultancy/speechifying role as global nanny to kleptocrats.
Here he is in action, as Mongolia – truly a country that Tony Blair probably knows next to nothing about – held its annual ‘Economic Forum’ last week.
“Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister, sent a greeting that said, “Mongolia is seen around the world today as a flagship for Central Asia, having successfully navigated the peaceful transition to democracy and a market economy. My view has become all the more impressive given Mongolia’s tough geography and climate. So, the critical challenge facing Mongolia now is turning the minerals in the ground into equitable sustainable growth. That is going to be big challenge. We all know that there are many examples around the world of instances where resources have ended up becoming either a curse or blessing for a country. There is no better time than now for Mongolia to learn from the experiences and lessons of other countries so that it can get it right first time. I have no doubt that Mongolia will succeed, and that it will become the world’s next great growth success story”.
This communiqué is suitably bland, because to refer to the fact that the main purpose of the Economic Forum was to discuss privatising much of Mongolia’s native resources and industry, and the fact that Mr Blair had three or four representatives at the Forum, might rather give the game away. Mr Blair even sent an adulatory note to Prime Minister S. Batbold of the Mongolian Revolutionary Socialist Party. But then, as we have seen, the former Prime Minister wants to be everyone’s friend, especially if they are rich, powerful, or in the case of Prime Minister Batbold are getting ready in time honoured fashion to flog off state assets to the highest bidders. For opportunities there will be.
But why are so many still fooled by Blair’s global ‘statesmanship’, unless of course it suits them to be fooled?
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