Enjoying the high life: Tony Blair in St Tropez on Saturday
Tony Blair has been having a high old time in Sardinia. Our former Prime Minister and Special Envoy for the Middle East was flown to the Mediterranean island in a private jet last Thursday.
He was then whisked to the enormous super-yacht of an American billionaire before visiting two other super-yachts in what was evidently a hectic round of partying and glad-handing. He also managed to squeeze in a few hours in the 'Eurotrash' resort of St Tropez on the southern French coast.
Of course, enjoying the hospitality of the super-rich is nothing new for Mr Blair. When he was Prime Minister, and several tens of millions of pounds poorer than he is today, he habitually holidayed with his family in the villas of multi-millionaires.
Despite his busy schedule, Mr Blair has been able to refine his latest thoughts about Syria, which surfaced in yesterday's Times newspaper. Surprise, surprise, he is strongly in favour of taking action. Since he does not draw any distinction between bombing and invading the country, we may assume he is in favour of both.
Given his record as a warmonger, one might have expected him to tread carefully. He doesn't.
What is extraordinary is that he does not merely urge what appears to be maximum force. He also sounds eerily like the old Tony Blair, who finagled this country into a disastrous war in Iraq.
He apparently assumes it was the Assad regime that used chemical weapons in last week's barbarous attack which seems probable, but is not yet proven. This is certainly the Tony we know, who assumed and informed us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction which could be used against us. He didn't, and they couldn't.
In his alarmingly bellicose article, he comes close to envisaging war against Iran as 'a theocratic dictatorship with a nuclear bomb'. A theocratic dictatorship it may be, but there is no evidence that Iran has yet built a nuclear bomb. But what do such distinctions matter to Tony Blair?
He pursues his argument in a characteristically apocalyptic way. There are dangers everywhere, which he enumerates without examining what they might be. Here is the wild-eyed Prophet Tony, who once told a Labour Party conference that he would 're-order' the world.
Blair assumed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction which could be used against us. He didn't, and they couldn't
This week Blair was whisked to an enormous super-yacht of an American billionaire before visiting two other super-yachts (including the Pelorus, owned by U.S. music mogul David Geffen, pictured), but still has been able to refine his latest thoughts about Syria
'From the threat of the Iran regime to the pulverising of Syria,' he declares, 'to the pains of the Egyptian revolution, from Libya to Tunisia, in Africa, Central Asia and the Far East, wherever this extremism is destroying the lives of innocent people, we should be at their side and on it.'
Golly! Tony Blair is going to have us fight a lot of wars all over the place. But then that is what he did when he was in power from Kosovo to Sierra Leone to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Why should we invade Syria? Mr Blair is neither clear nor cogent in all his swirling prose. He regards extreme Islam as the ubiquitous evil that threatens us all, and suggests that by engaging in Syria we would be taking on these dark forces.
Blair apparently assumes it was the Assad regime that used chemical weapons in last week's barbarous attack - which seems probable, but is not yet proven
But it is not explained how this might work. Allies of al-Qaeda represent a large portion of the opposition fighting President Assad. How would we weaken al-Qaeda extremists by targeting Assad? We might very well give them a boost.
There are three shaming omissions in Mr Blair's call to arms. In the first place, he does not provide any details about how we should set about involving ourselves in the internal affairs of Syria.
Lord Goldsmith expressed reservations before the invasion of Iraq and he and Blair fell out
In the second place, he does not consider the legality of the kind of onslaught that he advocates. But then why should he? Mr Blair didn't set much store by legal niceties before the invasion of Iraq, and fell out with his Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, when he expressed reservations that were later retracted.
And, most damningly of all, the words 'Britain' or 'British' do not appear in his piece. At one point he asserts that intervening in Syria would protect 'our interests' a highly dubious proposition. But he does not define whose interests he is talking about. America's? The West's? Britain's?
Mr Blair long ago abandoned any distinction between British and American interests, which was why he was able to squander our soldiers' lives and billions of pounds in a pointless war. Of no conceivable benefit to Britain, it was the brainchild of a deluded American President, whom our Prime Minister cringingly wished to please.
Does it ever occur to Mr Blair that Britain is a sovereign country whose servicemen swear an oath of loyalty not to the President of the United States but to Her Majesty the Queen? I very much doubt it.
Our former Prime Minister hops from private aircraft to super-yacht, far removed from the people he once wished to serve, existing in a kind of transnational bubble. He surrounds himself with American billionaires, addresses American and other foreign businessmen in return for vast fees and works for an American bank, J.P. Morgan.
Blair has built a vast fortune with which he has bought a string of houses - and all on the back of his reputation as George W. Bush's dependable sidekick
Blair leaves Les Palmiers restaurant on Pampelonne Beach, Saint Tropez to board 167ft yacht Crazy Me
In Britain Tony Blair is reviled by many for taking us into war on false pretences. In his alternative, American-dominated universe he remains a hero, feted in the narrow circles he inhabits, building a vast fortune with which he has bought a string of houses and all on the back of his reputation as George W. Bush's dependable sidekick.
His legacy has been to spread mistrust of all politicians among ordinary people. John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, said on Monday that developments in Syria constitute a threat to American interests. Once I would have been inclined to believe him. Now I wonder: How? Why? Where?
One day there may be a good argument for our entering a war for reasons of national self-interest. The danger is that people will not listen to the politicians as they might have once done because Tony Blair has so poisoned the well of trust.
For now, his article makes it clear that he has learnt nothing from the past. There are the same ill-thought-out arguments, the same shallow rhetoric, the same tendency to bend facts to his ends. The wonder is that we could ever take this man seriously.
The thought of him rehearsing his latest manifesto for a foolish war on an American billionaire's super-yacht and urging action that could result in the loss of many British and other lives is very hard to swallow.
What can be said with confidence is that Tony Blair's intellectually threadbare championing of military action in Syria will do a great deal to undermine the case for any kind of intervention. The argument could hardly have been worse made.
Sceptics will wonder whether there is any respectable case in favour of war, and await Thursday's Commons debate with interest. Neither David Cameron nor William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, has yet explained how raining down missiles on Syria could possibly help.
Almost exactly a decade has passed since Anglo-American forces invaded Iraq. Tony Blair has obviously not learnt any lessons from that tragic mistake. Let's hope, at this eleventh hour, that Mr Cameron finally will.