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Last week a Belfast man was being held in a police station, interrogated for days on end under suspicion of being involved in the death of a woman. He denied the charges.
At the same time an Edinburgh gent was strolling round the globe as free as a market, picking up vast amounts of money for making the odd speech — some very odd, like a peace envoy calling for military action — and being generally feted. He cheerfully claims his involvement in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.
When it comes to responsibility for murder, it seems that big is beautiful.
I don’t know the details of Gerry Adams’s alleged involvement in the tragic and unnecessary death of Jean McConville but I do know what motivated him politically.
He believed his country to be occupied by a foreign power and his community to have suffered discrimination for centuries. He and his fellow republicans were prepared to risk their lives to drive an occupier out of their land.
On the other hand, I do know the details of Tony Blair’s activities in persuading his sycophantic Cabinet and eventually compliant parliamentary party politicians to invade Iraq, but I’m still not sure what motivated him. There are too many contradictions.
At the start we were told that our troops landed in Iraq because the Baghdad government was in possession of weapons of mass destruction.
There were two flaws in this argument. One, that the UN investigators had failed to find any because there weren’t any. And two, if Blair and his cronies were opposed to WMD, why did they like Trident?
It’s difficult to argue that Trident isn’t a weapon of mass destruction, given that each warhead has an explosive power of up to 100 kilotons of conventional high explosive.
CND points out that this is eight times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, killing almost a quarter of a million people. And we’ve got 40 of them. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d say that constituted weapons of mass destruction.
The difference, to Blair and his cohorts, was obvious. The British control Trident, and we will naturally be responsible with powerful weapons. Innately untrustworthy foreigners cannot be allowed them.
It stems from the same conviction of superiority that Cromwell had when he invaded Ireland and drew up the 1653 Act of Settlement, a law which basically legalised English land theft on the island.
In order to protect the thieves, Ireland needed to be occupied by the military — and strangely enough they resented it, from the Whiteboys to the Provisionals. But while Adams saw his role as seeking to remove imperialists, Blair was one.
His vision is every country a Christian, Western-style representative government. And while he wasn’t prepared to die for this ideal, he was certainly prepared to kill for it.
About 655,000 Iraqis died from March 2003 to June 2006 because of the invasion, according to the Lancet. And last month hundreds died in attacks linked to elections taking place in the country.
One thing that is similar between our globe-trotting fee-pocketing peace envoy and the arrested Irish republican is that they both have friends in the United States.
Blair was frequently on his knees with George Bush regardless of whether they were praying. And then there are chums like billionaire media tycoon Haim Saban who coughed up $1 million for one of Cherie Blair’s charities, and more than a couple of bob to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in the US.
Adams’s US chums are largely of a different calibre. And class. And, of course, income group.
The pair share more serious things, like bombings and shootings. Adams has seen internment, he’s been shot in the neck, shoulder and arm, he has lived believing he had “a 90 per cent chance of being assassinated” and he has experience of the security forces in action — as when they knew in advance of the Ulster Defence Association attack on his car in 1984, but didn’t actually stop it.
Blair has also had contact with shooting, intelligence services and prison without trial. He has ordered them.
Adams and Blair met up in 1998 when Blair arrived in Belfast to deliver the Good Friday Agreement.
Peter Hain had done most of the work but Blair was never a man in the background when it came to photographers, television cameras or soundbites.
He let Hain carry his bag while he gave everything, and everyone, his official blessing.
Blair aide Jonathan Powell wrote a book in 2008 — now available in most charity shops — in which he claimed that this meeting led to a “close personal relationship” between the prime minister and the arrested Ulster man.
He says Adams rang Blair to sympathise over police investigations into the “cash for honours” scandal of 2006 which at one time looked as if Blair might face criminal charges.
Well, it’s never too late, in my view. Bang Blair up, I say.
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