Save the planet if not Gaza: fire Tony Blair as Middle East envoy.

Tony Blair, the Quartet’s Special Envoy for the Middle East since June 2007, has never set foot in Gaza.

This was always an absurd appointment. Brits are the wrong people: we have a long and unhappy imperial history in the region, leaving lots of unresolved issues with both Arabs and Jews. Having built a fine post office in Cairo doesn’t exactly make up for this. Britain has enough current interests in the region in the way of oil and arms deals to ensure suspicion, but not enough to provide useful leverage. That’s before Blair stepped off the plane: a politician with no knowledge of Hebrew or Arabic, little acquaintance with the history or the players, and a personal reputation damaged by his reckless support of G.W. Bush’s Iraq adventure.

What were they all thinking of? It you want a trusted neutral mediator, go for a discreet professional like Martti Ahtisaari. If you want to knock heads together, there’s no substitute for the President of the United States. If you want – like Bush – to do nothing, there are already diplomats on the payroll.

Ending Blair’s expensive junket will not make any difference in Gaza. But it will at least help save the planet by cutting unnecessary travel.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web