15 JUNE 2015


It is generally agreed that former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair did nothing for the U.N. as a representative of an ineffective quartet on the Middle East, which did nothing more than meet to decide on the next meeting.

His recent "resignation" prompted a prominent Middle East observer like Robert Fisk to write in the Independent that "The man who never said he was sorry for the political disaster (in Iraq) simply turned up in Jerusalem four years later with a team which spent millions in accommodations and air fares, to accomplish absolutely nothing in the near decade that followed;" Fisk hoped the quartet will not repeat the folly by appointing "An even more unsuitable candidate." A columnist in the Beirut Daily An-Nahar, Rajeh Khouri, described Mr. Blair as an International Commission Maker who exploited his quartet role to make money for himself, adding that Mr. Blair ran an imaginary mission to represent an imaginary group leading nowhere.

A related question had always been about how did the former British Prime Minister get that assignment in the first place? Why did the U.N. leadership surrender its role to a group that eroded its credibility as a symbol of International Legitimacy?

During the last months of his Premiership, Mr. Blair was openly looking for a role to play after his resignation. Anyone who overheard a conversation between him and U.S. President George W. Bush when a BBC microphone was left inadvertently open at a G8 Summit in Saint Petersburg, would have noted that Mr. Blair had his eyes on the Middle East -- a humanly tormented though financially lucrative area. His role in arranging a gracious exit for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, whom he described in the tape as "Pure Honey," may have paved the way. More to the point, it was the tacit accord of the Arab countries including the Palestinian authorities that gave him a free hand at conducting personal business along with a semblance of political missions. Since taking over that post in 2007 after leaving Office with a limited publicly recorded income, British media recently reported a gain of between $70 million to $140 million, depending on who is counting; let alone a $1 million dollar annual salary from a well-known International Bank. As a lawyer, Mr. Blair is careful to operate within legal parameters. As Al Gore used to say, "It is legal, but was it proper?"

The answer is obvious.

The relevant point to the international community is: How much did Mr. Blair cost the U.N. while he was making all that money for himself?

A claim about not having a U.N. salary would be almost farcical. Travel expenses, Per Diem, or keeping a regular office at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, was the minimum of expenditures.

With all the talk about fiscal responsibility and transparent accountability, will current U.N. officials care about how much money he cost during financially difficult times, when millions of destitute victims of conflicts -- some of which he had instigated -- desperately needed depleted financial aid?