THE decision by Zimbabwe’s former coloniser Britain to award its former Prime Minister Tony Blair with a knighthood on December 31 2021 leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
Blair, the man who led the Western economic onslaught on Zimbabwe over Harare’s historic Land Reform and Resettlement Programme of 2000 as well as the brutal war against Iraq was made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter by Queen Elizabeth II, an honour described by The Guardian as “….the oldest and most senior British order of chivalry.
“The origin of this very prestigious Order goes back to the reign of Edward III in the Fourteenth Century,” says historic-uk.com.
“There is an ancient fount that now stands in the churchyard at Asperton, Herefordshire, and it was in this fount that a lady called Katherine Grandison was Christened.
This Katherine, Countess of Salisbury, is locally affirmed to be the lady whose garter slipped from her leg at a Court Ball in 1349 whilst dancing with King Edward III.
Tradition says that to cover the lady’s embarrassment King Edward picked up the garter, and with the words, ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’, (roughly translated as ‘shame on anyone who thinks evil of this’), buckled it on to his own leg. The phrase remains the motto of the Order.”
It goes on:
“The true significance behind this well-known story may well lie in the fact that the ‘garter’ was widely recognised as the badge of a high priestess, or witch, and Edward’s action could therefore have saved Katherine from certain charges of sorcery!
What a ‘good’ king Edward was then …certainly brave, as dealing with a witch could have terrible consequences at a time when the Inquisition was raging across the rest of Europe!”
Despite its controversial origins, not many agree that Blair deserves any title, even the most bizarre ones.
A petition calling for the revocation of the ‘honour’ reached one million in just six days.
The man’s penchant for fomenting wars, destroying livelihoods and killing innocent people from across the globe is well-documented.
Let us start with Zimbabwe.
In 2000, the Blair Government admitted to working with the opposition MDC, a party they helped form on September 11 1999.
The British Government also revealed that they were sponsoring the MDC through the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).
The Foundation then received £4,1 million from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), although it claimed it was ‘an independent public body’, which had, in its 13 years of existence, worked “…to achieve sustainable political change in emerging democracies.”
Its goals and methodologies were to work ‘with and through partner organisations to strengthen the institutions of democracy, principally political parties, parliaments, NGOs, trade unions and free media’, all of which, in its view, ‘must be strong for democracy to flourish’.
Details of the funding were published on the Westminster Foundation’s website.
“We work closely with the MDC on the measures that we should take in respect of Zimbabwe, although I am afraid that these measures and sanctions, although we have them in place, are of limited effect on the Mugabe regime,” said Blair during a presentation in the House of Commons in February 2001.
“We must be realistic on that.
It is still important to put pressure for change on the Mugabe regime.”
Blair and his crew were relentless.
In 2003, his Foreign Affairs Advisor, Robert Cooper, finally let the cat out of the bag when he openly called for the recolonisation of several countries, including Zimbabwe ,under what he termed ‘new imperialism’.
“The challenge of the post-modern world is to get used to the idea of double standards,” wrote Cooper.
“Among ourselves (the West), we operate on the basis of laws and open co-operative security.
But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of States outside the post-modern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the 19th Century world of ‘every State for itself’.
Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle.
The opportunities, perhaps even the need for colonisation, (are) as great as it ever was in the 19th Century.
What is needed then is a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values.”
Today, years after he left office, Blair is moving around the African continent trying to waylay new leaders with claims he is fighting dictatorship.
As has become the norm, there is little consideration for the people’s will in his sojourns which will turn fatal when he is done with his ‘mission’.
Africa should draw lessons from Zimbabwe which is still reeling from Blair’s disastrous policies, if they may be referred to as such.
The ‘curse’ of Zimbabwe and Iraq
Fomenting instability was a strategy that Blair used to perfection during his tenure as British Prime Minister.
Zimbabwe and Iraq will attest to this fact given the venom with which he went after those two nations.
While Iraq was not so lucky, with Blair teaming up with another warmonger and partner in crime, former US President George Bush, Zimbabwe came within a whisker of being bombed by the notorious duo.
On November 26 2013, former South African President Thabo Mbeki made stunning revelations that Blair had pressured his military generals to look at ways of invading Zimbabwe.
“The problem was, we were speaking from different positions,” former President Mbeki said in an interview on Al-Jazeera.
“There were other people saying, ‘Yes indeed there are political problems, economic problems, the best way to solve them is regime change. So Mugabe must go’. This was the difference. So they said, ‘Mugabe must go’. We said ‘But Mugabe is part of the solution to this problem’.”
He goes on, corroborating revelations by a British army general, one Lord Guthrie who was Chief of the Defence Staff during Blair’s first term in office who said in an interview in 2007 that he had been ‘pressured’ by ‘people (who) were always trying to get me to look at’ toppling Mr Mugabe by force’.
“A retired chief of the British armed forces said he had to withstand pressure from Tony Blair who was saying, ‘You must work out a military plan so we can physically remove Robert Mugabe’,” said former President Mbeki.
“We knew that, because we had come under the same pressure and that we need to co-operate in some scheme – it was a regime change scheme – even to the point of using military force, and we said ‘No’.
“You are coming from London, you don’t like Robert Mugabe for whatever reason and we are going to remove him and we are going to put someone else in his place?
“Why does it become British responsibility to decide who leads the people of Zimbabwe? So we said, ‘No, let Zimbabweans sit down, let them talk’.”
Even as Zimbabweans sat down to talk, the British could not resist poking into our affairs, with the opposition gleefully egging them on.
This was not so for the Iraqis who woke up 2003 to torrential bombs and bullets after Blair and Bush had lied to the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
An inquiry by Judge Chilcot shows that Blair relied on ‘deeply flawed’ intelligence to support his ally Bush in invading Iraq.
“We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort,” reads part of the report.
The report also reveals that Blair wrote 29 letters to Bush affirming his support for the planned invasion of Iraq.
For instance, some eight months before the invasion, Blair wrote to Bush saying: “I will be with you, whatever,” and, curiously, this was well before UN inspectors had completed their work.
We are not surprised that warmongers are honoured in Britain as it has always been their tradition to honour and celebrate criminals as well as scoundrels.