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[casi] from today's papers: 09-04-02

A. MPs press Blair to allow UN vote on Iraq strike, Guardian, 9 April
B. Blair warns MPs not to be 'naive', Independent, 9 April
C. How Saddam will go, Daily Telegraph, 9 April [leading article]
D. Blair will stick to his guns over Iraq, The Times, 9 April
E. Defiant Blair attacks critics of his stance on Iraq, The Financial Times,
9 April

The Times:
The Financial Times:

[Letter writers: Remember to include your address and phone number and that
all letters to the Times are supposed to be exclusive!]

Here's a round-up from today's papers. Note the Telegraph leader-writers
conception of 'the good.'

Best wishes,

voices uk

A. MPs press Blair to allow UN vote on Iraq strike

Patrick Wintour and Michael White
Tuesday April 9, 2002
The Guardian

Tony Blair is facing mounting backbench pressure to commit himself to a UN
vote on any allied military action against Iraq following his weekend speech
in the US suggesting he might at some stage back a US-led military offensive
to change the regime in Baghdad.
He is also facing Labour backbench calls for an arms embargo on Israel,
coupled with economic sanctions, issues already under discussion by the EU.

Mr Blair will face down his critics tomorrow at a meeting with Labour MPs
and then in a Commons statement nominally confined to the crisis in Israel.

Mr Blair, on his way back from the US, described his critics as utterly
naive, and remains puzzled by the degree of opposition to his stance.

Appealing for calm over Iraq, he told reporters on the plane: "All I say to
people is let's not get ahead of ourselves here. We are still in the
position of identifying the problem and laying down conditions for Saddam."

Unspecified military action, discussed by the prime minister and President
George Bush in one-on-one talks, remains the last resort, though Mr Blair
has come close to committing himself to supporting it if the US decides to
attempt a "regime change".

But a phalanx of Labour MPs expressed concern at Mr Blair's proximity to Mr
Bush. The former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle said he had "concerns about
being seen to be tied in to some of the more adventurous notions of the
American administration". He added: "To deal with Iraq, you need to deal
with the problems in the UN, not through unilateral or bilateral action."

George Galloway accused Mr Blair of "basking in the adulation of the
hard-right US Republican administration".

Tam Dalyell said Mr Blair would face tough questioning at his meeting with
Labour MPs.

Downing Street tried to calm the mood by insisting that Mr Blair's speech
following his talks with Mr Bush did not signal a hardening of the British
position against Iraq.

Mr Blair's critics demanded that the British government emphasise that
Saddam should be given a full chance to allow UN weapons inspec tors back
into his country. The UN alone should then decide if Saddam remains in
defiance and military action is justified.

Clare Short, the international development secretary, openly argued this
case before she was silenced by Mr Blair.

In his weekend speech, Mr Blair stressed the need for international
coalitions, but was silent on the need for a fresh UN resolution on Iraq,
something the US opposes.

Downing Street yesterday denied there was a need for a fresh UN mandate
since Saddam was already in breach of nine existing UN resolutions.

Mr Blair's Commons statement on the Israel crisis will spell out plans for a
fresh UN resolution based on ideas set out over the past two months by the
Saudi government. He will also also confirm that Britain is willing to send
ceasefire monitors to the region, as part of a UN force.

The foreign office minister Ben Bradshaw yesterday gave a flavour of British
frustration with Israel by warning the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, that he
was playing a dangerous game in refusing to comply with the US request to
withdraw his forces from the West Bank.

However, the commitment to UN resolutions on Israel only served to incense
Labour MPs already angry at the possibility of a unilateral military strike
against Iraq.

Richard Burden, the pro-Palestinian MP on the centre-left of the party,
warned Mr Blair: "If we expect our words about human rights or our warnings
about Iraq to have any credibility in the Arab world, we must demonstrate by
our actions that Israel has an obligation to abide by the decisions of the
UN just as much as Iraq or anywhere else."

The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell, said Mr
Blair's speech "lacked any analysis of the consequences for the region of
the break-up of Iraq and the regional instability that would be caused as a

B. Blair warns MPs not to be 'naive'
By Paul Waugh and Colin Brown

09 April 2002

Tony Blair will attempt to silence his Labour critics tomorrow with a
Commons statement on the Middle East and an impassioned plea for MPs not to
be "naïve" about Saddam Hussein.

The twin-track strategy will be deployed by the Prime Minister when he
attends a meeting of the full Parliamentary Labour Party to explain his
foreign policy goals to restive backbenchers.

Mr Blair will stress that Britain and the United States will be backing a
new UN-led effort to tackle the Middle East conflict, with a security
council resolution embodying Saudi peace plans.

The proposals by Crown Prince Abdullah aim to grant Arab recognition of
Israel in return for a lasting settlement for the Palestinians. The emphasis
on the United Nations involvement is an attempt to address the concerns of
many Labour MPs worried by Mr Blair's warning of military action and "regime
change" in Iraq.

He will make clear no "precipitate action" would be taken against President
Saddam, but will also stress the determination to remove the threat posed by
the dictator's weapons of mass destruction.

The Prime Minister's message will be backed by John Prescott, the Deputy
Prime Minister, who may speak in his support at the meeting.

C. How Saddam will go

Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 09/04/2002)

FOLLOWING the weekend summit in Texas between Tony Blair and George Bush, it
is now the agreed policy of the one superpower and its closest ally that
Saddam Hussein be overthrown.

Although the method and timing have yet to be decided, it is already clear
that his removal is militarily feasible. The American-led coalition drove
the Iraqis from Kuwait in 1991 with minimal allied casualties, and could
have rolled north to Baghdad had it so wished. Since then, the balance of
power has shifted in Washington's favour.

Although the Iraqi armed forces have increased in size, they have been
weakened by United Nations sanctions. It is thought that all army divisions
other than the Republican Guard are at 50 per cent combat effectiveness, and
that half the equipment lacks spare parts. In the air force, serviceability
of both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters is poor.

In the same period, American weaponry has made huge advances, particularly
in precision bombing with satellite-guided Joint Directed Attack Munitions,
in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles as missile platforms, and in special
forces operations.

Its power was felt by Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo and Serbia in 1999, and
by the Taliban and al-Qa'eda in Afghanistan last year. Added to this,
September 11 has helped to dispel the American fear of taking casualties
engendered by failure in Vietnam and revived by the deaths of 18 servicemen
in Mogadishu in 1993. The coalition to oust Saddam will not be as large and
wide as it was to drive him out of Kuwait, but it will pack far more punch.

As to how it will be done, the options range from a coup d'etat engineered
by the CIA to a full-scale ground invasion. The most likely is to use
American air power in support of a local uprising by the Shi'ites and Kurds,
who make up well over half the population, with ground forces standing by to
assist them if necessary.

Whatever method is used, it must be clear to Saddam's opponents within Iraq
that Washington is determined to see the job through; it is that resolve
which will encourage the many victims of his brutality to revolt.

Unleashing the air power seen over the Balkans and Afghanistan will almost
certainly be the opening phase of any action. Ground forces will almost
certainly have to go in in support. But it seems improbable that as many as
250,000, a figure often quoted, will be necessary.

As to timing, that must depend on allied preparedness, not on external
factors such as the state of the conflict between the Israelis and
Palestinians. The absence of weapons inspectors in Iraq is a direct
challenge to the authority of the UN and a grave threat to stability in the
Middle East.

Finishing business left undone by George Bush Sr and Bill Clinton is an
imperative in its own right, whatever may be happening on the West Bank. To
link one issue with the other is to tempt Palestinian terrorists to bomb
Israel in the hope of postponing or even preventing an attack on Iraq.

As to the political outcome, it would be gratifying to see in Baghdad a
democratic government which respected human rights, rather than a
clan-dominated totalitarian state. But the best must not be the enemy of the

What might follow the collapse of the Takritis is very difficult to predict.
The allies need not be committed to a particular successor regime, although
they should certainly encourage popular groups seeking Saddam's replacement,
such as the Iraqi National Congress. Their primary job is to remove a man
whose long rule has been founded on violence.

At Crawford over the weekend Messrs Blair and Bush cast the die: sooner or
later, Saddam will go. What is now required in Britain, which will play a
subsidiary but important role in any operation, is a debate as to how we can
best contribute to this goal.

Its swift achievement promises to enhance Western prestige in the Middle
East, whether in dealing with the terrorist threat posed by Iran and Syria
or in persuading the Palestinians that suicide-bombing is self-defeating.
The tools for the task are to hand. Its completion could turn the Middle
East round.

D. Blair will stick to his guns over Iraq
By Philip Webster and David Charter

The Times
April 09, 2002

TONY BLAIR has vowed to quell a growing rebellion by Labour MPs over Iraq
tomorrow by promising that action to stop President Saddam Hussein’s
production of weapons of mass destruction would be taken “for the right
reasons in the right way”.
The Prime Minister has no intention of retreating from his statement in
Texas on Sunday that he is ready, if necessary, to back military action
aimed at toppling Saddam.

With any campaign believed to be at least a year away, Mr Blair will try to
defuse the revolt by insisting that that there will be no rushed action. He
will say that he intends to follow the United Nations’ route of trying to
force Saddam to comply with resolutions demanding the admission of weapons

Mr Blair believes he can win over Labour MPs to the need for military
action, but he will face tough questioning at a private meeting of the
Parliamentary Labour Party tomorrow.

In the afternoon he is to give a formal statement to MPs on his weekend
summit with President Bush and their proposals for a political process in
the Middle East. He has offered British monitors to verify that the
Palestinian Authority is apprehending alleged terrorists and that Israel
keeps to the terms of any ceasefire by stopping its incursions into the
occupied territories.

But in the morning Mr Blair will see for himself whether the scale of Labour
opposition to war against Iraq has increased. A total of 125 Labour MPs have
signed a Commons motion expressing unease over potential military
involvement against Iraq, but the dissent goes wider.

One of those who has not signed, Denzil Davies, a former Labour Shadow
Defence Secretary, added his voice to those calling for restraint. Mr Davies
said: “We need to see evidence that there is a very real danger to peace and
security from Saddam Hussein having or acquiring weapons of mass

“My own feeling is that, if this has to be done, it needs a strong UN
mandate. I know there are certain resolutions which go back to the Gulf War,
but they would need to be underpinned by something new. Certainly many of us
in the Parliamentary Labour Party would look for an underpinning in terms of
a fresh UN resolution.”

Peter Kilfoyle, the former Labour Defence Minister, spoke of his concerns
about being seen to be “tied to some of the more adventurous notions of the
American Administration”. He said: “People in breach of UN security council
resolutions should be called to account before the UN. It is not a question
of one or two countries acting in a gung-ho way.” Expecting trouble, Mr
Blair took the unusual step of ensuring that his speech in College Station,
Texas, on Sunday was seen in advance not only by Jack Straw, the Foreign
Secretary, but John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is closely in
touch with backbench opinion.

On his flight back yesterday, Mr Blair tackled the issue of the mood of
Labour MPs when he said: “A lot of the anxieties people have is because they
think we will act precipitately. But we are not at the point of decision. We
are at the point of saying that this is a real issue which we cannot duck.
Saddam Hussein must let the inspectors in without conditions.”

Mr Blair added: “What you will find is that most people want us to act for
the right reasons in the right way. Very few people in the PLP — how could
they — defend Saddam Hussein or do not agree that weapons of mass
destruction are an issue and that it is important we stop them developing

However, he added: “Let us not get ahead of ourselves. We are still in the
process of identifying the problems, and laying down clear demands to Saddam
Hussein. People do not want us to act precipitately for the wrong reasons in
the wrong way. I hope people realise that we will not do that. But this is
an issue that will not go away.”

Mr Blair is believed to have told Mr Bush that when the time comes Britain
will back action against Iraq. But they agreed at the weekend that a long
process of convincing Iraq’s neighbours that Saddam could be successfully
ousted, and making sure that there was a viable successor regime, would be

In the meantime Mr Blair will continue to press the UN route, trying to
build the widest possible coalition. He said yesterday that if Saddam
refused to grant access to inspectors, he would be clearly wrong in the eyes
of the UN.

Advisers say that Mr Blair believes the coalition can be recreated if Saddam
continues to flout UN resolutions. In the end the credibility of the
organisation may depend on action being taken.

Glenda Jackson, another former minister, said: “I think it is very
irresponsible to be upping the rhetoric with regard to any possible action
on Iraq without the relevant evidence that Saddam is engaged in the creation
of weapons of mass destruction and has the ability to deliver them.”

Michael Ancram, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, backed the line taken by Mr
Blair and Mr Bush. “They made clear the objective, which is the removal of
these weapons, and they made clear they will pursue whatever means are
necessary to achieve that objective.”

E. Defiant Blair attacks critics of his stance on Iraq
Financial Times; Apr 9, 2002

Tony Blair accused his critics of "getting ahead of themselves" on Iraq as
he prepared to face hostile questioning at a meeting of Labour MPs tomorrow.

"People will make their judgments when we make our judgments," the prime
minister said as he returned from weekend talks at US President George W.
Bush's ranch in Texas.

"(The media) can go to members of the parliamentary Labour party and they
will tell you what frankly they would have told you at the time of the Gulf
war. Let's just wait and see. Most people will make their judgments when we
explain why we had come to the judgment that we have," he said.

However, with more than 100 Labour MPs having signed a motion voicing "deep
unease" at future military action, backbenchers say opposition within the
party goes beyond the usual small band of leftwing critics. Glenda Jackson,
one of the signatories and a former minister, called Mr Blair's comments

She said: "I think it is very irresponsible to be upping the rhetoric with
regard to any possible action on Iraq without the relevant evidence that
Saddam is engaged in the creation of weapons of mass destruction and has the
ability to deliver them. Until that potential has been verified, the
international community should be concentrating on what is already happening
in the Middle East."

Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow and the longest-serving MP, said
opposition to Mr Blair's stance on Iraq could not be so easily dismissed.
"This is not just the usual suspects. There will have to be a very serious
meeting of the PLP on Wednesday."

Mr Blair has assured the US people he will stand by them if it comes to
military action to oust Saddam Hussein, while telling his UK audience that
decisions are a long way off. British officials believe any attack could be
a year or more away.

"A lot of the anxieties people have are because they think we are going to
act precipitately. We're not. What we are at is the point of saying this is
a real issue. We can't duck it," he said.

Iraq has rejected Mr Blair's demand to allow United Nations weapons
inspectors to return to the country "any time, any place". He said: "If Iraq
is rejecting weapons inspectors, if they are rejecting the UN resolutions,
then they are putting themselves very clearly in the wrong."

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