THEY love him in the States, even if he remains disinclined to pick up the Congressional Medal of Freedom that they bestowed on him four years ago. And it's easy to see why. As an orator Tony Blair is streets ahead of any of their own politicians (with the exception of Bill Clinton who is no longer really in the game) and he still gives the impression of being able to express complex ideas with remarkable clarity. Perhaps in time, as he becomes a more familiar and less exalted figure in the United States, they will begin to see past the fluidity of his arguments and the recognise their essential speciousness. Tony Blair left California on a high having received a standing ovation from the World Affairs Council for a speech whose main feature was a call for “a complete renaissance of our strategy to defeat those who threaten us”. (Get that “renaissance”! Not change or re-think or new direction, but renaissance, with all the historical weight that the word carries.) Unfortunately, Mr Blair's ideas hardly justified the grandeur of his language. There was no recantation over Iraq or Afghanistan, or doubt about Britain's policy on Israel's war in Lebanon. Instead he spoke of the “an alliance of moderation in which Muslim and Christian, Arab and Westerner, wealthy and developing nations, can make progress and live in peace and harmony with each other.” Yes, of course, but how? Tell us Tony.


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