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Iraq: The View from Downing Street

Try not to believe that myself or President Bush are sort of badly motivated people who want to do the worst

Tony Blair said on Veterans' Day,

just try and look at it from the perspective that we are taking on and recognize that were it not for the conflict, those people in Iraq would still be under the lash of Saddam and his sons and their henchmen

Decrying "resurgent anti-Americanism" in an interview with London-based American correspondents in his Downing Street office on November 11, 2003 (including Warren Hoge of the New York Times), Britain's prime minister said that Europeans should drop their caricatured view of U.S. policy.

"Is America, as I think these critics believe, simply exercising its power in a selfish way without regard to the interests of the wider world, to do whatever it wills because it is the most powerful nation," Blair asked rhetorically, "or is America correctly identifying on behalf of the world the key security threats of the 21st century and dealing with it in a balanced, measured and just way, so that advantages that countries like America and Britain have are extended to other countries in the world?" He replied, "That is my view where it is."

Asked about British complaints that he appeared to give unquestioning support to Washington, the P.M. retorted that there was a number of areas in which he was in disagreement with U.S. policy (such as the environment, trade, and steel tariffs) and that he made such disagreements known forcefully in private. He did not, however, share his critics' view that he ought to stand up to the United States more in public.

I don't believe it is very sensible when you are in a coalition and you are fighting a war and then fighting a peace in very difficult circumstances to be mouthing off every so often

he said. Adding

And actually, I don't believe the essential strategy of the Americans if wrong. I believe it is right.

12 Million Britons Signing a Peace Petition

Regarding the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marching worldwide against the war with Iraq, Blair told fellow Labour Party members in February 2003 (before the shooting started):

If there are 500,000 on the march, that is less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for. If there [are] one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started.

And as far as figures go, a few days later, Denis MacShane (Britain's minister for European affairs during the second Gulf war) put the numbers of the demonstrators and their significance into perspective when he reminded the French daily Le Monde that in the 1930s, there was an anti-war public opinion that was much louder than today's, with 12 million Britons signing a peace petition, which they sent to Hitler!

A Noble and Good Cause

Paying a surprise whistle-stop visit to the southern Iraqi city of Basra on January 4, 2004, Blair thanked British troops for their part in toppling Saddam Hussein and told them they had fought in "a noble and good cause".

Iraq was a country whose régime had a proven record of the use of weapons of mass destruction — not just their development — and a régime so abhorrent that … literally hundreds of thousands of its citizens died in prison camps and torture and repression. If we had backed away from that, we would never have been able to confront this threat in the other countries where it exists.

Although no WMD have been found in Iraq so far, the P.M. again referred to Saddam's efforts to acquire them as a valid reason for his overthrow. "No government that owes its position to the will of the people will spend billions of pounds on chemical and biological and nuclear weapons whilst their people live in poverty", he added.

Brutal and repressive states that don't actually have the support or consent of their people, that are developing weapons which can cause destruction on a massive scale, are a huge, huge liability for the whole security of the world

Here Is the Crux…

As the first anniversary of the Iraq war approached, Blair gave a speech in London on March 5, 2004, saying that the September 11 attacks demonstrated a new and "mortal danger" to the West. And that, therefore,

this is not a time to err on the side of caution; not a time to weigh the risks to an infinite balance; not a time for cynicism of the worldly wise who favor playing it long.

"Here is the crux", he said: "It is possible that even with all of this, nothing would have happened" had there been no war. "Possible that Saddam would change his ambitions; possible that he would develop" an unconventional weapon "but never use it; possible that the terrorists would never get their hands on" unconventional weapons in Iraq or elsewhere. "We cannot be certain", he said, before adding, "But do we want to take the risk?"

We Are Locked in a Historic Struggle in Iraq

On April 11, 2004, Tony committed himself anew to the war in Iraq: "We are locked in a historic struggle in Iraq" said Britain's P.M. in an article in The Observer Sunday newspaper.

On its outcome hinges more than the fate of the Iraqi people. Were we to fail, which we shall not, it is more than 'the power of America' that would be defeated. The hope of freedom and religious tolerance in Iraq would be snuffed out. Dictators would rejoice; fanatics and terrorists would be triumphant.

As increased fighting pitted U.S. soldiers against insurgents, Blair added: "Of course they use Iraq. It is vital to them", he said, referring to terrorists who have carried out attacks in places

from Kashmir to Chechnya, to Palestine and Israel. As each attack brings about American attempts to restore order, so they then characterize it as American brutality. As each piece of chaos menaces the very path towards peace and democracy along which most Iraqis want to travel, they use it to try to make the coalition lose heart, and bring about the retreat that is the fanatics' victory. There is a battle we have to fight, a struggle we have to win, and it is happening now in Iraq. …

The two constants in mainstream media articles about Tony Blair

They know it is a historic struggle. They know their victory would do far more than defeat America or Britain. It would defeat civilisation and democracy everywhere. They know it, but do we? The truth is, faced with this struggle, on which our own fate hangs, a significant part of Western opinion is sitting back, if not half-hoping we fail, certainly replete with schadenfreude at the difficulty we find.

© Downing Street

Read Tony's common-sense article in The Observer
The two constants in mainstream media articles about Tony Blair
Merci, Monsieur Blair