The publicity blitz accompanying the release of Tony Blair's book has several levels of irony.
Firstly, it is an ironic comment on the state of international politics that the heads of states of two of the major liberal democracies in the world have waged war with the ostensible purpose of bringing democratic freedoms to Iraq and Afghanistan, and have enjoyed complete immunity for the enormous destruction and mayhem that they have wreaked in both countries (to say nothing of ancillary attacks in other countries like Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia in pursuit of a vague and quixotic "war on terror"). It is even more ironic that according to the standards that their countries' laid down at Nuremberg in 1945, these heads of states would qualify to be charged and tried as war criminals. And it's more ironic still that the supposedly democratic world seems powerless to bring these criminals to account, thanks to the complicit silence of the mainstream media in educating the public about their criminality, and their stenographic repetitions of, and indeed outright support for, their mendacity, racism and violence.
That's what enables Blair to make millions as author and speaker strutting about the globe, dispensing advice and admonition to all and sundry on the self-proclaimed righteousness of his psychopathic stance as leader of a supposed democracy. His tawdry role as Middle East "Peace" Envoy coincides precisely with the further consolidation of the occupation and destruction of the Palestinian people by a succession of psychopathic Israeli regimes spurred on by the self-appointed inheritors of the Western Enlightenment tradition. Meanwhile, all attempts to hold Blair to account for his criminality founder on traditions of politeness and propriety (or hypocrisy) in western political discourse.
The trouble with this kind of criticism of current versions of Anglo-American "liberalism" is that it is often confused with support for the thoroughly odious Islamic extremism that it has nurtured (but not always created) in various parts of the world. To criticize the Israeli occupation of Palestine or the US/NATO invasion and occupation and destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq is - through some kind of intellectual legerdemain - too often taken as support for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the Taliban and various terrorist outfits emanating from Pakistan. Few seem to notice that this aggressive "liberalism" of neocons like Blair and Bush and their ideological soul-mates is supported ideologically and financially by the no less odious Christian and Jewish extremists - who are the Christian and Jewish mirror images of the Taliban in the US and Israel. Apparently, colonialism and racism and apartheid are somehow respectable in these "liberal" circles, including - sadly but predictably - among the Hindu right in India, as long as it appears in the guise and shape of Zionism in Israel.
The barbarism of the neocons (in which I include all those who think it's a good idea to wage wars in other countries in the guise of a global war on terrorism, but actually to defend their interests against threats both real and imaginary) and the barbarism of extremist groups using the garb of religion to further their own egregious aims both nourish each other with the oxygen of publicity, and hog the attention of the media, distracting the public from far more urgent and important struggles to make the world a more liveable place. Thus it comes about that successive US regimes have persuaded their public that the Taliban in Afghanistan are a serious enough threat to the US to warrant invading that country and waging a war there for nine years costing thousands of lives both Afghan and US, and billions of dollars in resources. Thanks to the media, few Americans apparently care that the effect of this war has been to entrench the Taliban more firmly in power and destroy any prospect of a peaceful life for millions of Afghans for the foreseeable future, enrich the military and other contractors and the armaments industry, all at the expense of the health, education and well-being of current and future generations of American citizens.
Notice what is happening in Pakistan: the US is aiding and arming a pseudo-democratic (but effectively military) regime in Pakistan in the guise of enlisting its support against terrorism, while this aid is being spent by the Pakistani regime on fighting an internal civil war which is designed to create more terrorists (including the heroic predator drone strikes on civilian populations from the safety of Kansas and West Virginia). Both donor and recipient have developed incentives to continue this killing spree in the name of fighting the very terrorism whose flames are being fanned by their actions. Consider the synergy between the military-industrial-congressional-thinktank-university-media complex in the US/NATO countries and the military-jihadi complex in Pakistan, and follow the money. Ask yourself who is gaining by all this. Notice similar synergies developing elsewhere, e.g., in the alleged Peace Talks between a Palestinian quisling and his US and Israeli masters while ordinary Palestinians continue to lose their homes to settlements, and keep getting killed for reasons which only rarely pose a threat to Israeli citizens. The war on terror has expanded, not shrunk, because it has evolved into a political project to keep people in a permanent state of insecurity in which they would feel compelled to support policies to protect them against imagined terrors.
I would predict that the politics of the 21st century will be characterized by the Synergy of Barbarisms rather than by the Clash of Civilizations. But the synergy of barbarisms cannot be broken by a counter-alliance of another set of barbarisms, but by an alliance of civilizations. Between the extremes of ideologies there is the silent majority of mostly apathetic, but mostly decent people who care principally about their own futures and that of their children and their own communities. Yet they feel powerless and insecure in the face of vast political and economic issues when these become their own private problems. The violent faces of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism do not represent the vast majority of such people, many of whom are the adherents of these religious traditions. Nor do their religious texts speak unambiguously about the need for compassion, kindness and mercy in dealing with suffering engendered by the different problems that beset our world today. But they provide a narrative, language and symbolism for what are essentially worldly (secular) conflicts born out of the confusion and insecurity that economic, historical and political forces beyond their control have created. These anxieties are felt in different forms and for different reasons both among powerful elites as well as among powerless and marginalized masses. These threats and fears then present opportunities for neocons to exploit "Pearl Harbour" moments of insecurity to disseminate perceptions of threats to so-called security or "national interests" that will help them initiate invasions and killing sprees in the name of peace, security, democracy and development. In reality, all that improves is the wealth of those invested in this permanently elusive, but ultimately destructive, search for security.
Yet there is enough in various religious traditions to propel a search for peace and justice and a better world that secular ideologies, with their absence of any sense of the sacred, have so far failed to provide. There is a need for ordinary people (civil society) to get together across national boundaries to commence dialogues aimed at peace. Let's talk, eat, make music, worship together; visit each other's homes, help each other out in times of distress. Let's not wait for governments to do these things, because the indications are that the only things they are interested in is arming each other against threats that they themselves manufacture, or are manufactured for them, to keep us frightened and pliant. Therefore it is absolutely imperative that foreign policy be taken away from the stranglehold of states - most of which often behave as if they have an incentive to continue the killing and destruction. Let's re-read all significant texts, re-assess all sources of wisdom. Let's use them to build traditions of dissent that will use the oldest civilizational narratives known to humanity to stop the killing and destruction and live in peace with justice. Yes, let's use religion as a political resource, but to renew, rebuild and heal our civilizational inheritance, not destroy ourselves with our barbarism.