There is a certain assumption that it is OK to hang out with the Democrats, Clintons, Obama, and members of the UK labor party, since they are not members of the neo-con cabal. An exception to this assumption has been Tony Blair who, because of close association with Bush, ended up being completely discredited, and whoever went near him got discredited. But Tony is now attempting to rehabilitate himself - hoping that the world will simply forget about his war crimes.
Tony Blair, however, still does belong to the liberal imperialist camp. I expect that he will focus on recruiting liberal and progressive type Muslims who would 1) be all too willing to ignore his war crimes, and who 2)have been critics of so-called "fundamentalists" and/or have been involved, in one way or the other, in the project of pacification of Muslims (Radical Middle Way, being one example).
No Muslim who has a memory of Tony's crimes, and truly has a heart connection with the Muslim umma, would ever willingly agree to work with him on any project.
Think about it, suppose an unrepentant and unpunished man responsible for the murder of your family, your husband, your wife, your children, was to invite you to work on a project to clean up some trash in your neighborhood. What would you do? Would you be willing to dishonor the memory of your family, and say, well, he is doing some good, and just go and join him? Knowing fully well what he has been responsible for?
"Indeed this community (ummah) of yours is one community (ummah), and I am your Lord, therefore, worship only Me. (Qur'an 21:92)
and there is the well known hadith:
"The Muslim Ummah is like one body. If the eye is in pain then the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain then the whole body is in pain." (I don't know the source, if someone does know, please drop in a comment).
Sure, if Blair or Bush or other war criminals were serving a life term in prison (without the possibility of parole) and as part of their sentence, they were required to pick up trash, OK, I can see that... Maybe you are a Muslim, working as prison guard, and would be supervising them to make sure they get the job done right... no one would have any objections in such a situation.
Amongst those that Tony has recruited is one, Eboo Patel, a liberal Muslim, who has been making the rounds in the US on National Public (sic) Radio (aka National Petroleum Radio) - and was listed by the liberal "alternative" Utne Reader in 2002, as one of "thirty social visionaries under thirty changing the world."
Lets take a closer look at Eboo Patel to see just how much of an "alternative" he is...
1. Eboo Patel's organization "Interfaith Youth Core" is going to be a major part of the Tony Blair Foundation:
The Faiths Act Fellowship is an initiative of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and is coordinated by Interfaith Youth Core.
2. Patel has some big time, not so alternative, names backing him up:
Through the Clinton Global Initiative, a project that brings together worthy causes and big-name benefactors, the ex-president (Bill Clinton) has spotlighted Patel’s work and brought him to the attention of Queen Rania of Jordan, who helped set up an international exchange program, and actress Markie Post of “Night Court,” who held a fundraiser and opened doors in Hollywood.
Remember Clinton? That is the guy who continued the devastating economic sanctions on the people of Iraq for 8 long years. Remember Clinton's secretary of state, Madeline Albright?
In 1996 then-UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright was asked by 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, in reference to years of U.S.-led economic sanctions against Iraq, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
To which Ambassador Albright responded, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”
The most monumental of Clinton's war crimes, however, has been his policy of sanctions on Iraq, supplemented by the maintenance of intense satellite surveillance and regular bombing attacks that have often resulted in civilian casualties. UNICEF reports that in 1999 more than 1 million Iraqi children under 5 were suffering from chronic malnutrition, and some 4,000-5,000 children are dying per month beyond normal death rates from the combination of malnutrition and disease. Death from disease was greatly increased by the shortage of potable water and medicines, that has led to a 20-fold increase in malaria (among other ailments). This vicious sanctions system, causing a creeping extermination of a people, has already caused more than a million excess deaths, and it is claimed by John and Karl Mueller that Clinton's "sanctions of mass destruction" have caused "the deaths of more people in Iraq than have been slain by all so-called weapons of mass destruction [nuclear and chemical] throughout all history" (Foreign Affairs, May/June 1999). U.S. mainstream reporters, who have so eagerly followed the distress of the Kosovo Albanians, somehow never get to Iraq for pictures of the thousands of malnourished children.
And last, but by no means the least, like Vali Nasr, like Reza Aslan, Eboo Patel is also connected to the "brain of imperialism" The Council of Foreign Relations.
He (Eboo Patel) is on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations (from bio in Newsweek)
Coming up next - we'll take a closer look at some of the staff at Tony's foundation, and Saleema Abdul Ghaffur.