- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Economist, Britain’s venerable weekly newsmagazine, has called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign. The magazine’s political leaning in Britain is to the right of newsweeklies in the United States.

In fact, the Economist’s political position is right of center, though it is very fastidious about the positions it takes. Reading it is somewhat like reading the official voice of the Vatican, though with none of the puckish humor of L’Osservatore Romano.

At any rate, I read the Economist regularly and enjoy it. But calling for Mr. Blair to resign strikes me as a publicity stunt, except the Economist’s editors see themselves as above such opportunism, much as the pope sees himself as above such opportunism.

Mr. Blair has said he intends to resign before the next British election. The ritualistic leftists in his Labor Party have pressuring on him to resign, the sooner the better. Now the fastidious right has moved in to increase that pressure.

Think of it. This brave and farsighted man who told all Europe that the enemy was coming is asked to resign even though the enemy has struck and he has been vindicated. He summoned the forces worldwide to repel the brutes and is succeeding. The man who with the Coalition of the Willing is whipping the New Nazis, the Islamofascists, in two countries is prevailed upon to give up his post before the job is done. If he does, who will take over as prime minister, Neville Chamberlain?

With the Economist’s editors assuming this preposterous position, let me assume at least an equally impudent position. As the editor in chief of the American Spectator I call upon Mr. Blair to finish his premiership and resign only after he has handed authority over to a functioning Iraqi government with the Iraqi military pacifying its country.

Frankly, I admire Mr. Blair as one of the rarest of politicians. He has taken chances on behalf of principles that are at once sound and require resolve to defend. In this case, the principle is defending civilized values against barbarism.

Those who have read about the brave handful of Europeans who in the 1930s defied appeasement and Nazism think of the appeasers as the anomaly. Actually, appeasers are the norm among politicians. The Blairs and the Churchills are the anomaly.

Politicians who confect sophistications for ducking the responsibilities of power are all around us and always have been. Their arguments are very appealing if one can banish from mind the ghastly brutality of the Islamofascist brutes who kill defenseless citizens first in their war to impose nihilism on the world. Or do you think Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden will be satisfied once we all live as good Muslims? Then off to their prayer rugs the pious Zarqawi and bin Laden will go, never to lose their tempers again?

Mr. Blair understands the challenge to the West. In the Labor Party, not known for its ardor to defend the West against such barbarous forces as Nazis and communists, he stood out, took chances, and directed his party and his country to defend the West. He even stood out and directed his party away from the antique class-warfare of socialism, modernized it and kept Britain competitive in the modern market economy. The immediate reward was prosperity and Labor election victories.

Now forces in his country are scheming to remove him from the stage. Well, let the Economist stand with the defeatists. Over on this side of the Atlantic, the American Spectator calls on Mr. Blair to stay at Number 10 and finish the job.

I never would have thought a Labor leader could do so much for Britain and the West. He showed his mettle on Kosovo when the majority of Europeans again ducked their responsibility to humanity. Mr. Blair recognized Slobodan Milosevic for the butcher he was. Mr. Blair was staunch in removing the Taliban from Afghanistan, and he did not flinch in staring down Saddam Hussein. Mr. Blair is the kind of leader Britain’s Tory Party should have produced. I still have my disagreements with him, but he has amazed me. He puts principle before party.

In the first of three speeches he is scheduled to deliver on the threat against us he said this week, “This is not a clash between civilizations, but a clash about civilization. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction.”

Strangely, this speech was not widely reported in America. It seems to be part of a counterattack by the leaders of the Coalition of the Willing against the defeatists. President Bush is sounding similar notes in public appearances. Their rhetorical offensive is just another war story the press has missed.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun, and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His latest book is “Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.”

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