Palm trees behind a stucco wall, waving in the breeze; out front the middle aged man who’s flagged down a TV camera in order to get his retaliation in first.
That man is Tony Blair, so the fronds waving to television viewers are likely to be Levantine, i.e. somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, in accordance with the former UK prime minister’s recent role as a ‘Middle East peace envoy’.
To camera, Blair is fronting his preferred account of the dismemberment of Iraq, in which a country now cut into pieces is not the legacy of the Anglo-American, Blair-Bush invasion of 2003; more a continuation of the current civil war in neighbouring Syria underpinned by age-old enmity between Sunni and Shia Muslims.
In newly established refugee camps, families who fled Iraq’s second city, Mosul, following the incursion of Sunni forces fighting for the self-proclaimed Islamic State ofIraq and Syria (ISIS), introduce relics of their erstwhile middle-class existence – blow-up children’s mattresses in Disney-style designs – into the minimal, clinical interiors furnished by international aid.
Back in Iraq, one of many men shown with hands above heads, being led into the desert to be shot by ISIS troops, is wearing a Nasri football shirt. He won’t mind missing the World Cup, then, since his hero failed to make the French team.
Of course the probable execution of Nasri-fan-man is not something to be so flippant about. But how else to react, without indulging in the latest emotional frisson contained in covering civil war as the new Walking Dead?
Similarly, with Cameron’s currently fashionable caution as objectionable as Blair’s previously popular interventionism (more than a decade ago when ‘WMD’ spelled What we Must Do), there is no proper, progressive place in the current round of position mongering.