So the first draft of history is in and it looks like it's written off Tony Blair's slapstick attempt at playing Middle East peace envoy for the quartet as a failure. And if we assume that the purpose of "the peace envoy" is to foster harmony and amity between bitter enemies, then I suppose that it has been.
If, on the other hand, you see the main duties of the peace envoy as being
- Giving speeches to Israeli political organisations reassuring them that their opinions are wholly correct and need only to be sold a little more savvily, and issuing the occasional solemn tut-tut noise whenever their government starts smashing up Gaza again, and
- Noisily finger-wagging everyone who will listen about how the best thing to do at any point is whatever the White House wants them to do, and
- Maintaining the reputation of Mr Tony Blair as a political titan, by giving him a suitably statesmanlike backdrop to stand against...
...Well, then I'd say that Tony's tenure has been a rip-roaring success.
Similarly, there are a lot of LOLS to be had today in comparing Tony's lofty rhetoric to the paltry progress of the peace process, but this surely only works if you assume that "peace" is the point of the process.
Again, if you think that the purpose of having a peace envoy is to convince the Israelis and the Palestinians to come together and to thrash out a painful but mutually-beneficial solution to their neverending pissfight, then Tony has been comically useless.
Mind you, if the actual purpose of the envoy is to make a big, empty song and dance about how you're just questing for peace like a motherfucker, while occasionally squirting a soupcon of legitimacy onto a fairly bare-faced attempt to deliver as many of the Israelis' core desires as possible, so that they incur the minimum amount of meaningful international resistance possible...
...Then I'd say that Tony's tenure has again been a barnstorming triumph, effortlessly achieving all of the key goals that he was set.
And there's actually a way to measure which of these roles Tony was tasked with fulfilling. We can look back to 2007 and compare what Tony said he wanted to do, and then compare it to what he actually did do, all the while assuming that he did what he always wanted to do throughout.
He said he wanted to "try to give effect to what is now the consensus across the international community - that the only way of bringing stability and peace to the Middle East is the two-state solution". A more modest goal than it may at first sound, given that it's a vow to "try" to do some shit that people think is, like, right.
And what did he do?
Well, let's just say that he spent rather more time in Tel Aviv telling the locals that they needed to deploy more effective propaganda, than he did banging heads together around the negotiating table, kicking ass and taking names.
All of which suggests to me that far from being seen as a failure, Tony is going to be hailed as a hero in Washington and can now surely walk into whatever thinktank or diplomatic mission he wishes to bless with his patronage.
Time will tell whether I'm right about that, I suppose.