September 1 2010
Global Leader for Hire
If I get around to reading former PM Tony Blair's new book, I'm likely to want to like it just because Blair was a loyal ally when the U.S. needed him.
Still, a piece in the (U.K.) Spectator on what the book reveals is irresistible. It argues that Blair's book is really about the emergence of a new global elite, unshackled by mere voters:
Blair's book tells about how the world is changing, and governments are losing control of it. He paints a picture of a new global elite, and it's easy to see that he regards himself as a potential master of this new universe. No one elected Bono, but - Blair gushes - "he could have been a Prime Minister or President standing on his head". Bill Clinton has this status, of Global Leader For Hire, and even found himself resolving real disputes - taking hostages back from North Korea last year. Blair is transcending both party (there's nothing left-wing about his memoir) and even country (he's being less and less British every time he makes a guest appearance here). Like Clinton, he has discovered that a smile and a contacts book can be worth a lot of money.
Blair Inc isn't about making a rich man even richer. It's about pioneering a new form of statesmanship - for leaders who are no longer shackled to their electorates. Blair is going global. "I now travel to China frequently" he says - and you can bet it's not for the lemon chicken. Not for nothing does the Blair Faith Foundation have offices in East and West. This book is about promoting a global brand: that of Blair himself. So we should not waste too much time scouring it for his thoughts about the country he has left behind.
It is interesting that some powerful people don't opt to become part of this globalized elite. Condoleeza Rice is one of those who didn't have her head turned by power:
"[Rice]is a classic example of the absurdity of people with experience and capacity at the highest level not having big political jobs after retirement from office," he writes. "But that's another story!" Indeed it is.
Would rooted in her own country be another way of describing Rice?