Two stories from today's papers. Here's the Guardian's 'hilarious' faux Q&A with itself on the topic of Blair and Gaddafi:
I thought Our Tone had denied the Gaddafi family's claims to friendship with him? Well, yes, you would, wouldn't you? But Tony probably harbours some warm feelings since he was in charge when Libya agreed to moderate some of its policies and preferred modes of government in 2004.
Oh, yes, that's right. That was in the wake of the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, wasn't it? What's your point?
It was when Gadaffi looked around and saw what the UK was prepared to do to bigger, better equipped countries and decided that dictatorial discretion was the better part of valour, badmouthed terrorism for a bit and let some oil companies back in. Doubtless one of the many positive ramifications Tony saw when he conceived his plan to follow wherever Bush led. Honestly, the glass is always half empty with some of you folk, isn't it? I sometimes worry that the poor man is doomed to be misunderstood forever.
This wretched little squib typifies the paper's reporting and editorial on this subject. Indeed, in its mix of personalised poison and adolescent self-loathing it's representative of much of the British media, at least whenever the subject is something to do with the Blair years.
Now here's the New York Times, in a front-page report written by one of its most experienced and respected journalists, David Sanger:
Today, with father and son preparing for a siege of Tripoli, the success of a joint American-British effort to eliminate Libya’s capability to make nuclear and chemical weapons has never, in retrospect, looked more important.
Sanger's report is worth reading in full. Gadaffi and his son came to feel that the West charmed and steamrollered them into a bad deal; that they gave up a lot and got very little in return. They were right.
As part of it, Gadaffi surrendered thousands of chemical shells. If he still had them, do you think he would hesitate to use these against his own people? Even if he didn't, the very fact of their existence would strengthen the dictator's hand immeasurably in his struggle to cling to power.
Our former Prime Minister's part in the 2004 negotiations with Gadaffi is something we should feel good about.