‘Tony Blair is ignoring his own starring role in the destruction’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press

Tony Blair
(Image credit: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

1. Tony Blair is right that the UK needs to reflect on its role in Afghanistan’s misery – but so does he

Ian Birrell in the i newspaper

on ‘shameless hypocrisy’

“Blair is back on the warpath, avowedly in defence of democracy,” says Ian Birrell in the i newspaper. The former prime minister has “broken his silence on the Afghanistan debacle with an essay pontificating in his usual sanctimonious style about leadership, jihadism and the need for ‘rediscovery’ of Western values worth defending”. Birrell accuses Blair of displaying the “most shameless hypocrisy” in his 2,751 words, published yesterday, which “demonstrate that he has learned absolutely nothing” after years of pursuing policies and deeds that damage democracy and freedom. He concludes that Blair is “simply a brazen hypocrite, spouting shallow platitudes and writing disingenuous essays while ignoring his culpability for carnage in foreign countries, the damage done to democracy and his own starring role in the destruction of support for liberal values”.

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2. The unspoken truth is that Joe Biden is just too old

Tim Stanley for The Telegraph

on ageing leaders

“Biden is too old to be president,” declares Tim Stanley for The Telegraph. The US president “has simply exhausted his once formidable talent and energy, and attempts to pretend that he’s a spring chicken have become a bad joke” – but “people are dying because of this man”. Stanley says the president “lacks the necessary acuity for this job, something brushed away during the election as a symptom of his lifelong stutter”. He said that “growing numbers of Republicans say Biden looked unwell or unfit for the job” because that is “an open goal screaming for a good kick”. But unlike accusations that Ronald Reagan was “over the hill”, which were “accentuated by innuendo”, Biden’s “incompetence is displayed before our very eyes”.

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3. Why the west will learn no lessons from the fall of Kabul

Nesrine Malik in The Guardian

on history repeating itself

“For more than two decades, this has been the governing logic of the war on terror: US and British leaders make the ‘difficult and brave’ moral decisions, and then someone else worries about the consequences,” argues Nesrine Malik. Writing for The Guardian, she suggests that “the chaos in Kabul” is “simply the latest instalment in a long-running drama whose protagonists never change. There is no closure and no responsibility.” Remembering the time of the Iraq war, Malik adds: “Nothing has been resolved, no lessons have been learned, no meaningful assessment of the war on terror has been passed. Suddenly it is 2003 again.” She concludes that the reality of the war is that, in the end, it was not about ending terror, or freeing women, but “high-profile revenge enacted on low-profile soft targets”.

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4. I was born in the UK but the Home Office threatened to deport me

Ace Ruele for Metro

on ‘fighting for survival’

“As I was sitting in my cell, one of the prison guards handed me a letter addressed from the Home Office,” begins actor Ace Ruele in an article for Metro. Recalling the moment in 2010, he explains that he’d “been in jail for about three years by then after stupidly committing robbery with an imitation firearm during a particularly desperate time in my life – and regretting it ever since”. Having been born in the UK, he was reduced to tears to learn that the government wanted to deport him to Jamaica, which he had “only ever fleetingly visited twice in my life”. He said he has been “fighting for… survival ever since”. Ruele concluded: “I believe anybody born in the UK should be exempt from deportation or having to go on temporary leave, regardless of their circumstances and whether they’ve been in jail.”

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5. Paralympians are athletes, so please don’t call us heroes

Liz Johnson for The Times

on the need for a new narrative

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are a “thrilling time” for athletes but also one of “inevitable mispronunciations (‘Para-o-lympics’)” and “clunky terminology describing disabled athletes”, writes Liz Johnson for The Times. The gold, silver and bronze Paralympic swimming medallist adds that “nothing makes me cringe more than when people talk about these athletes as if they collectively embody a Hollywood-style story of triumph against adversity”. The “cranking up the pedestal for Paralympians” only serves to present us with “one acceptable, understood picture of what a disabled person can aspire to be”. As the Games begin, she argues: “We cannot deify Paralympians if this means placing the wider disabled community in their shadow.”

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