The Times newspaper contains many different viewpoints on its comments pages – while the overall trend is clearly rightwing, you can get an interesting range of views. But one thing it is almost invariably predictable on is being pro-American. So the column of Matthew Parris, the former Tory MP, today is particularly interesting.
Like Anatole Kaletsky on these pages, I am deeply unsettled by Washingtonâ€™s perspective on the region, obediently marketed by Tony Blair as a looming stand-off between an â€œarc of moderationâ€ (Saudi Arabia â€” donâ€™t laugh â€” Pakistan and other more moderate Middle Eastern powers) and an axis of evil, dominated by Iran. Unlike Anatole, I had until recently supposed it inconceivable that this was a war the United States could really want. I thought rumours that Israel might be willing to strike, in part as proxy for the United States, fanciful…..
And so we return to where I started: Gerard Bakerâ€™s assertion that â€œIf weâ€™re going to follow the US or the EU, Iâ€™d take clumsy America any timeâ€. If we are now living in a world in which only fear of failure is deterring the United States from fomenting in the Middle East a confrontation between two great blocs of Arab, Persian, Jewish, Kurdish, Afghan and Pakistani peoples, then â€” if I must choose â€” will I take clumsy America every time? No, of course not. But itâ€™s worse than that. Will I even be able continue comforting myself that mistakes like this are out of character? Will I still feel, at the deepest level, on Americaâ€™s side?
Certainly, Parris, if put on a left-right political scale with Tony Blair would on many issues not be within hailing distances to the PM’s left, but as he himself says, he’s always been innately, fundamentally pro-US. And I think he might be right in saying that his inner shift matches that of many others.