UK paperback

Now wash your hands

What Tony gave George

I learn that among the gifts presented by Tony Blair to George W. Bush has been a washbag, with “GWB embossed in gold”. Never let it be said that Tony does not have a finely tuned sense of symbolic irony, alluding as he no doubt was to Macbeth Act V scene i:

Out, damned spot! out, I say! – One; two; why, then ’tis
time to do’t ; – Hell is murky! – Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier,
and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call
our power to account? . . .

Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes
of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.

  1. 1  Sohail  November 4, 2006, 2:13 pm 

    Aaaaah, yes, “Sheikhspeare”… :-)

    Also memorable are these lines:

    Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
    Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
    The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
    Making the green one red.

  2. 2  Sohail  November 4, 2006, 2:17 pm 

    BTW, I just remembered, among other gifts, Tony also gave Dubya a bust of Churchill early on his first term. What do you suppose Tony was alluding to?

  3. 3  Graham Giblin  November 4, 2006, 3:03 pm 

    Perhaps this will help – Michael Barone’s closing to his report* of the recent love-in with George in the Oval Office:

    “On the way out the door, I asked him what he had been reading lately. The answer: Andrew Roberts’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 (an advance copy, apparently). Roberts is a friend of mine (and of Mark Steyn), a British history writer who has written the definitive biography of the 3rd Marquis of Salisbury (prime minister 1885, 1886–92, 1895–1902) and a delightful volume of essays on Winston Churchill’s opponents, Eminent Churchillians. Roberts’s English-Speaking Peoples is an extension of Churchill’s multicentury history that ends around 1900, and I expect that it will take Churchill’s view: that the English-speaking peoples have over the centuries taken up the responsibility of expanding freedom and spreading democracy and the rule of law around the world.

    That is Bush’s view as well, as I was reminded when I noticed the bust of Churchill as I was leaving the Oval Office.”


  4. 4  Sohail  November 4, 2006, 3:37 pm 

    Hi Graham

    As it happens, I was browsing through a copy of Robert’s book yesterday and I thought this has got to be the crassest most jingoistic nonsense that I’ve read in a long while. Heaps of Unspeak here.

    As for Churchill, perhaps Blair was alluding to Churchill’s steely determination in wanting to use poison gas against “uncivilized tribes … to spread a lively terror” or against “recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment” or indeed his complete disregard for trifles like morality and international law in such matters.

    See for instance:

  5. 5  Graham Giblin  November 4, 2006, 4:08 pm 

    re: “What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?”

    might we amend the English Constitution? “POTUS non potest peccare” (cf.—2 Roll. R. 304; Jenk. Cent. 9, 308, from

    [I really am not this erudite, I just love the internet…]

    But to play with the allusion a little more, Macbeth killed Duncan because it was prophesied by the witches that Macbeth would be king. So is George doing the same thing? Intentionally fulfilling the prophesy of the Apocalypse (or the “rapture”)?

    You might think this far-fetched until you see him apparently unable to answer the question, “Do you believe this: that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse and if not why not?” (

  6. 6  Graham Giblin  November 4, 2006, 4:28 pm 

    That Churchill reference is chilling. He actually did deploy gas in Iraq in the 20s to spank a few tribal bottoms!

  7. 7  Sohail  November 4, 2006, 4:58 pm 

    Lloyd George was of course no different with his “we reserve the right to bomb the sand niggers”. Google for it. And it wouldn’t surpise me at all (when in time more and more documents are declassified) that Bush and Blair have said stuff that is no less reprehensible.

  8. 8  Graham Giblin  November 6, 2006, 8:55 am 

    Apparently Kenneth Adelman told the BBC in October 2003 that “It bothers me that people in Britain don’t see it as people in America see it. We did a beautiful thing.”

    It’s not so much that he’s not at all troubled by the blood on his own hands (“I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.” as an advidor to the Pentagon, member of the Project for the New American Century, member of the Committee on the Present Danger etc. etc.) It’s that the carnage he sees is beautiful to him.

    And he wants more. He’s still just upset that Bush hasn’t gone in hard enough and he is “crushed” by Rumsfeld’s incompetence, according to Vanity Fair (via NYT).

    So anyway, you can find a response to his 2003 comment at YouTube here or on my blog here

  9. 9  Steven  November 6, 2006, 7:22 pm 

    POTUS non potest – very nice. I think meanwhile more than a few people have been crushed by Rumsfeld’s competence, as well as his incompetence…

    In other exciting news, there is now an forum!

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