WASHINGTON -- The Economist, Britain's venerable weekly news magazine, has called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign. The magazine's political leaning in the United Kingdom is to the right of the newsweeklies in the United States. In fact, the Economist's political position is right of center, though it is very fastidious about the positions it takes. Reading it is somewhat like reading the official voice of the Vatican, though with none of the puckish humor of L'Osservatore Romano. At any rate, I read the Economist regularly and enjoy it, but calling on Blair to resign strikes me as a publicity stunt, except that the editors of the Economist see themselves as above such opportunism, much as the Pope sees himself as above such opportunism.
Blair has said that he intends to resign before the next British election. The ritualistic leftists in his Labour Party have been putting pressure on him to resign -- the sooner, the better. Now the fastidious right has moved in to increase the pressure on Blair. Think of it. This brave and farsighted man who told all Europe that the enemy was coming is asked to resign even though the enemy has struck and he has been vindicated. He summoned the forces worldwide to repel the brutes and he is succeeding. The man who, with the Coalition of the Willing. is whipping the New Nazis, the Islamofascists, in two countries, is prevailed upon by some of his fellow citizens to give up his post before the job is done. And if he does, who will take over as prime minister, Neville Chamberlain?
With the Economist's editors assuming this preposterous position, let me assume at least an equally impudent position. As the editor in chief of The American Spectator I call upon Blair to finish his premiership and resign only after he has handed authority over to a functioning Iraqi government with the Iraqi military pacifying its country. Frankly, I admire Blair as one of the rarest of politicians. He is a man who has taken chances on behalf of principles, principles that are at once sound and require resolve to defend. In this case the principle is defending civilized values against barbarism.