Uriah heep's party

“Consider a person who had every reason to be happy but who saw continually enacted before him tragedies full of disastrous events, and who spent all his time in consideration of sad and pitiful things. Let us suppose that he knew they are imaginary fables so that though they drew tears from his eyes and moved his imagination they did not touch his intellect at all. I think that this alone would be enough to gradually close up his heart and to make him sigh in such a way that the circulation of his blood would be delayed and slowed down…”

Thus Descartes, quoted in Stephen Gaukroger’s marvelous Descartes: an intellectual biography. Descartes imaginary person is in much the same situation as LI – we have our eyes full of the newspapers, we understand that the tragical events depicted in them are such as to be skewed almost to the point of sheer fiction, and yet they draw tears from our eyes. Surely a headline like this one can only delay and slow down the circulation of your blood – a sure cause of melancholia:

Blair in secret Saudi mission

Expulsions link to £40bn arms deal

We must distinguish between passions raised by the president of the U.S. and the prime minister of the U.K. The former arouses contempt, but how can the latter not arouse something worse? This newspaper fable, this Uriah Heep voice full of the most ludicrously hypocritical sentiments attached to a bloody, dead end war full of atrocity and powerlust really is something out of Dickens. Let’s collate the fables, shall we? This is from the report of Blair’s speech today:

“Today, of course, we face a new challenge: global terrorism. Let us state one thing: these terrorists do not, never have and never will represent the decent, humane and principled faith of Islam.Muslims, like all of us, abhor terrorism; like all of us, are its victims. It is, as ever, only fringe fanatics we face.”

This is from the article:

“Tony Blair and John Reid, the defence secretary, have been holding secret talks with Saudi Arabia in pursuit of a huge arms deal worth up to £40bn, according to diplomatic sources.

Mr Blair went to Riyadh on July 2, en route to Singapore, where Britain was bidding for the 2012 Olympics. Three weeks later, Mr Reid made a two-day visit, when he sought to persuade Prince Sultan, the crown prince, to re-equip his air force with the Typhoon, the European fighter plane of which the British arms company BAE has the lion's share of manufacturing.”

This is from the speech:

“But we need to make it clear: when people come to our country they have and should have the full rights we believe in. There should be no second-class citizens in Britain. But citizenship comes with a duty: to give loyalty to our nation, its values and our way of life.”

This is from the article:

“Defence, diplomatic and legal sources say negotiations are stalling because the Saudis are demanding three favours. These are that Britain should expel two anti-Saudi dissidents, Saad al-Faqih and Mohammed al-Masari; that British Airways should resume flights to Riyadh, currently cancelled through terrorism fears; and that a corruption investigation implicating the Saudi ruling family and BAE should be dropped. Crown prince Sultan's son-in-law, Prince Turki bin Nasr, is at the centre of a "slush fund" investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.”

This is from the speech:

“This is a global struggle. Today it is at its fiercest in Iraq. It has allied itself there with every reactionary element in the Middle East. Their aim: to wreck this December's first ever direct election for the government of Iraq.”

This is from the article:

“The Typhoon, currently entering service with the RAF, has a price of more than £45m a plane. Saudi Arabia previously bought a fleet of its predecessor Tornados from Britain in the Al Yamamah arms deal. Mike Turner, the chief executive of BAE, Britain's biggest arms company, was quoted in Flight International magazine on June 21, just before Mr Blair's Riyadh trip, saying: "The objective is to get the Typhoon into Saudi Arabia. We've had £43bn from Al Yamamah over the last 20 years and there could be another £40bn."

This is from the speech:

“And the way to stop the innocent dying is not to retreat, to withdraw, to hand these people over to the mercy of religious fanatics or relics of Saddam, but to stand up for their right to decide their government in the same democratic way the British people do.”

And this from the article:

“There is concern within the Foreign Office at the apparent partiality of No 10 to BAE's commercial interests. Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair's chief of staff, and his brother Charles, Lady Thatcher's former adviser and now a BAE consultant, are believed to be in favour of the deal.”