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Iraq: The View from Downing Street
Tony Blair said on Veterans' Day,
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.
he said. Adding
12 Million Britons Signing a Peace Petition
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".
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.
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,
"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
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