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[casi] from today's papers: 11-04-02

A. Blair talks big on Iraq, but Washington calls the shots, Guardian, 11
B. MPs warn Blair to focus on West Bank, Guardian, 11 April
C. Fiction of a UN mandate for Iraq attack, letters from today's Guardian,
11 April
D. Angry backbenchers accuse Blair of double standards over Middle East,
Independent, 11 April
E. Labour rebels defy Blair on Iraq, Daily Telegraph, 11 April
F. Blair suffers backbench anger over Iraq action, The Times, 11 April
G. Delay and danger. More awkward challenges ahead for Blair on Iraq, The
Times, 11 April [leading article]
H. Labour MPs accuse Blair of evading concerns over Iraq, Financial Times,
11 April

Daily Telegraph:
The Times:
Financial Times:

[Letter writers: Remember to include your address and telephone number and
that The Times require all letters to be exclusive!]

Here's today's round-up, mainly focussing on Blair's performance in
Parliament yesterday at which he 'failed to calm Labour MPs' fears over
possible military action against Iraq' in 'one of the most hostile Prime
Minister's Question Times since he came to office.' (Independent)

List members were able to get a couple of letters in today's Guardian (C) so
keep on writing!

Best wishes,


A. Blair talks big on Iraq, but Washington calls the shots
Hawks in America have set the prime minister his biggest test

Hugo Young
Thursday April 11, 2002
The Guardian

On the Middle East and Iraq, Tony Blair sometimes makes himself sound like
the man in charge of western policy. He did it again yesterday. It's the
tone he adopted after his weekend with President Bush. Calling the shots and
making the promises could be regarded as the necessary licence we need to
give our national leader. He must be seen to be in control, especially by a
fiercely worried swath of Labour MPs. But it would be a serious mistake to
believe that, when it matters, Mr Blair will be the one to decide what he
now seems to pretend is within his power. His zone of decision will be

There was a time when his voice really mattered. Maybe that's the memory
that causes him to speak as though he has some control over what happens
next in Iraq. In the Kosovo end-game, he secured great influence both in
private and in public. His famous Chicago speech in April 1999, setting out
a moral case for intervention, became the text that helped to carry American
opinion. His private nagging swayed Bill Clinton to commit to a position
that many domestic forces had told him he should not take.

The Blair line on intervention has hardly changed. He set it out again, with
a few cautionary refinements, in the weekend speech in Texas. He believes in
interdependence but also in the duty of righteous states, if necessary
without a broad consensus, to root out global evils. He talks about Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction as a suitable case for treatment, but insists
that "we" will not act precipitately. He announced that there would be no
early decision. His briefers laid out the nuances and reservations he would
apply to any suggestion of an all-out attack. He touched on the UN
perspective, while rejecting the need for a new security council resolution.
This "we" of whom he spoke implied not just community but equality with his
Texas friend.

That's not entirely fiction. Community is developing. Mr Bush needs Mr Blair
alongside, and one of his officials has been quoted saying that Mr Blair's
support would be a precondition for an attack on Saddam Hussein. They had
some hours of conversation at Crawford, partly one to one. The Blair
persuasive powers, formidable in his own mind, had time enough to work their
effect, no doubt in the direction of complicating a policy stance that Mr
Bush would like to keep simple.

But if decisions are not precipitate, that will be Bush's doing, not
Blair's. Nuance and reservation will eventually be smashed aside, if the
determination is made in Washington to set in motion the regime-change in
Baghdad that many voices are demanding. It's hard to find anyone in the
American capital who does not confirm this as a settled objective of the
Bush administration, or pretends it will not be attempted by force. That is
now becoming the orthodoxy which the Blair analysis helps uncritically to
establish as something that "we" accept. A benign imperial intervention is
being prepared, subject only to its timing.

There are, however, some things we do not all agree about. A judgment
uniting all European countries is that, in the hierarchy of dangers,
Israel/Palestine takes paramount place. The prime minister told the Commons
that this has become a confluence of tragedies which, for once, makes crisis
an understatement. It rages out of control hour by hour, under the hand of
two leaders who now think no further than violence and destruction. Even
Secretary Powell has been obliged to approach it crabwise, dodging from one
advance haven to another, lest his arrival in Israel be marked by more
humiliating evidence of the indifference both Sharon and Arafat seem
prepared to show to mighty Washington.

To European powers it is elementary that Israel/Palestine take precedence
over a widening of the campaign against terror and weapons of mass
destruction. The British foreign policy and defence establishment, let alone
the French and German, look with horror on the notion of throwing more
petrol on the Middle East inferno by advancing against Saddam Hussein before
some kind of acceptable peace has settled over Israel. In their nightmares
the US attacks Baghdad while Israel still occupies the West Bank. They see
current events as postponing indefinitely the showdown with Saddam.

But this isn't everyone's order of priorities. To militant anti-Saddam
elements around the Pentagon and the US Senate, there can be no Middle East
peace until Saddam is disposed of. They would not allow intransigence on the
West Bank to delay the attack on Baghdad for which many are engaged in
making detailed plans. One can see their political reasoning. If you wait
for an Israel-Palestine settlement, they say, you may wait for years. Iraq,
by contrast, presents the opportunity for a winnable, visible, perhaps
uncomplicated war, in which victory would have seismic repercussions that
finally gave Israel protection, and ushered in, as part of the shakedown, a
more malleable generation of Palestinian leadership.

That is close to the policy that Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative party
leader, evidently favours. Not long ago he published a pamphlet making an
extensive case for the forceful eviction of Saddam. He has often argued for
unconditional support of any policy the US adopts, whether bombing Baghdad
or deploying missile defence. Take that in combination with the bias of his
Commons statement yesterday, and you find a card-carrying spokesman for the
ideology of the Pentagon hard right. At a time when the best that outsiders
can offer by way of a Middle East policy are pious banalities, these should
at least be even-handed. Mr Duncan Smith, instead, chose to deliver a
shockingly one-sided defence of Israel to the near-exclusion of the

Mr Blair was better than that. His moral repugnance for Saddam Hussein
doesn't overcome his common sense in seeing the dangers of an escalation in
Arab rage on behalf of the people of Gaza and the West Bank. He finds the
right words for the unspeakable vileness of the suicide bomber. He plainly
sees the folly of an attack on Baghdad without a coalition to support it,
and knows this coalition will not be forthcoming if the Israeli boot is
still seen on the Palestinian throat. His own party coalition, if nothing
else, demands that nothing precipitate is done. His MPs pressed good and
honest questions yesterday. They reflect an anxiety that spreads beyond
Labour. Mr Blair must know he could yet face much the most dangerous
political conflict of his leadership.

His problem is how little he controls that. He talks a big game at present.
He's intensely engaged, as he should be. We must hope his influence is as
great as he pretends. But Washington is a sectarian capital, controlled by
politicians unaccustomed to cultivating allies, and peopled by determined
thinkers who see the hour of Saddam's extermination at hand. Washington
alone will decide when to act. Mr Blair's only decision will be whether or
not to go along. Place your bets.

B. MPs warn Blair to focus on West Bank

Michael White, political editor
Thursday April 11, 2002
The Guardian

Tony Blair's bid to rally MPs behind the Bush-Blair axis on the Middle East
won qualified support from all sides yesterday. But it came at the price of
warnings not to let Iraq distract him from the more urgent task of halting
the bloodshed between Israel and the Palestinians.

Two days after his weekend trip to the Bush ranch in Texas, the prime
minister spent more than two hours facing critics at Westminster, first at a
private meeting of Labour MPs, later when he faced question time, and then
when he made a statement to the Commons.

Frustrated critics, many unable to question the prime minister yesterday,
will get their chance in a full day's debate on Tuesday, though it will not
be focused on Iraq but the deadlock on the West Bank and Gaza.

"Amidst the suffering there appears to be no strategy to end it, therefore
no hope," Mr Blair told a crowded house. "Both sides must see that violence
is not and never will be the answer. The solution will never be reached if
it is seen purely as a security or military question. There must be a
political process too."

In exchanges with Iain Duncan Smith, in which the Tory leader tilted
conspicuously more towards Israel than he did, Mr Blair also suggested for
the first time in public that the international monitors he wants to see
police a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine should also ensure that
suspected terrorists are not arrested by Yasser Arafat only to be promptly
released through "the revolving door".

Though Mr Blair tried to focus the exchanges on the crisis in the
Israeli-occupied territories - "it is hard to overstate the dangers," he
said - he was constantly forced back to defending his insistence that Saddam
Hussein's "despicable" regime cannot be left unchecked.

"Doing nothing is not an option - I repeat, however, no decisions have been
taken. Our way of proceeding should be and will be measured, calm and
thought through."

Labour backbenchers were earlier given the same message.

Some leftwing and main stream critics were satisfied with what they heard.
"His response was pretty effective," conceded one prominent MP.

However, others complained of a "dysfunctional meeting in which he talked
80% of the time about domestic policy and 80% of our questions were about

In the Commons, some Tory MPs, including former cabinet minister Douglas
Hogg, said they were not yet persuaded of the Iraqi menace - "especially
when the Middle East is in turmoil".

That is precisely the complaint of mainstream Labour sceptics. They told the
prime minister it would be folly to even think of military action against
Iraq before its Arab neighbours have been reassured of western good faith
towards the Palestinians.

In contrast to his unrelenting disdain towards Saddam's regime, Mr Blair
tried to avoid partisanship between Mr Arafat and Israel's prime minister,
Ariel Sharon.

He coupled mention of harrowing atrocities suffered on one side with those
on the other, reminding pro-Palestinian MPs that random suicide bombs that
kill women and children generate anger that "is huge and intense".

Mr Blair repeated the government's four-point plan: to join global pressure
for a ceasefire; to get UN authority behind the Saudi "land for peace" plan;
to provide monitors to rebuild confidence on both sides; and work with the
EU, the Palestinians' major aid donor, to rebuild damaged infrastructure and
better security forces to work with Israel.

Most Labour interventions were concerned that Downing Street focus its
limited resources on the immediate Israeli crisis, not Iraq, where Mr Blair
insisted the regime is rebuilding its nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons capability.

"He's got to eat, drink and sleep it as he did in Northern Ireland," said

C. Fiction of a UN mandate for Iraq attack

Thursday April 11, 2002
Letters, The Guardian

There is no legal basis for a military assault against Iraq in UN
resolutions (Blair sees no need for new UN mandate to attack Iraq, April
10). In November 1990, security council resolution 678 authorised the use of
"all necessary means" to get Iraq to quit Kuwait if it had not left by
January 15 1991, "and for no other purpose". Iraq left Kuwait over 11 years
ago and no subsequent UN resolution has authorised the use of force against
Iraq for any other reason, including the so-called no-fly zones. Talk of
Iraqi non-compliance reactivating UN authorisation is, therefore, nonsense.

The UN charter is explicit. The attack against Iraq being planned, which
risks killing thousands, if not tens of thousands, of civilians, is not
self-defence and has not been authorised by the security council. That Mr
Blair refuses to make British participation in such action conditional on UN
authorisation is symptomatic of his contempt for international law.

Gabriel Carlyle

The claim by "Whitehall sources" that the government's much-heralded dossier
on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has not been released "because of a
lack of hard evidence" is highly revealing, particularly when juxtaposed
with Tony Blair's constant claim that Iraq has such weapons.

By the end of 1998, UN weapons inspections had disarmed Iraq "to a level
unprecedented in modern history", leaving the country posing a "WMD-based
threat to no one", so long as monitors remained in place (Scott Ritter,
former head of Unscom's concealment unit).

Since the US and Britain chose to destroy Unscom despite its substantial
achievements on the disarmament front, concern over Iraq's WMD capabilities
is clearly not driving policy.

Milan Rai
Voices in the Wilderness

There should be a law against people like Ahmad Chalabi (Is this man leading
us to war with Iraq? April 10) plotting the violent overthrow of a foreign
government while living here. When will our government act?

Julian Dunn
Great Haseley, Oxon

D. Angry backbenchers accuse Blair of double standards over Middle East
By Paul Waugh Deputy Political Editor

11 April 2002

Tony Blair failed to calm Labour MPs' fears over possible military action
against Iraq yesterday as he faced one of the most hostile Prime Minister's
Question Times since he came to office.

Mr Blair came under fire from three former ministers in the Commons hours
after backbenchers questioned him at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour

The MPs' anger spilt over despite an announcement by the Prime Minister of
new proposals to install British and European Union officials to monitor any
ceasefire between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Blair made clear that a new United Nations security council resolution,
based on a Saudi peace plan for the region, would be sought in New York as
early as next week.

He also promised MPs a debate on the Middle East on Tuesday and pledged for
the first time that a similar debate would be held on Iraq if any decision
was made on military action in the future.

But Peter Kilfoyle, a former defence minister, led the criticism at question
time with a searing attack on Mr Blair's comments that critics of his
foreign policy were "utterly naive". Mr Kilfoyle asked: "Is it naive to be
dismayed at the succour which has been given to Sharon by the mixed messages
which have come out of the American and British administrations?

"Is it naive to beware the bellicosity of elements within the American
administration based on ideology or is it naive to believe in the centrality
of the UN in resolving the problems of the Middle East?"

Jon Owen Jones, Labour MP for Cardiff Central and a former Welsh Office
minister, said it was vital to tackle both the Middle East conflict and the
Iraq situation without being seen to use "double standards".

George Howarth, a former Home Office minister, said he wanted an assurance
that Saddam Hussein would be given every chance to comply with UN
resolutions before any action was taken.

The MPs' comments reflected serious concern at Mr Blair's support for
possible US military intervention when he met President George Bush in Texas
at the weekend. Some 146 MPs, most from the Labour Party, have signed a
Commons early day motion expressing "deep unease" at such support.

Mr Blair said Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programmme "has to be
confronted and will be confronted".

Labour backbenchers' concerns were underlined when Mr Blair faced extensive
questioning over his policy towards Iraq at a meeting of the PLP.

E. Labour rebels defy Blair on Iraq
By George Jones and Andy McSmith

Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 11/04/2002)

LABOUR MPs were openly defiant yesterday over Tony Blair's support for
American military action to topple Saddam Hussein.

For the first time since he came to power, Labour backbenchers subjected him
to hostile questioning during Prime Minister's questions.

Labour MPs have been criticised in the past for putting soft questions to Mr
Blair. But this time his critics were prepared to express their concerns in

At an earlier private meeting of Labour MPs, Mr Blair was left in no doubt
about growing opposition to his robust expression of support for American
military intervention when he met President Bush at the weekend.

The row overshadowed Mr Blair's offer to send British observers to the
Middle East to ensure that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority kept wanted
 terrorists behind bars.

In a Commons statement, the Prime Minister joined international demands for
the Israelis and Palestinians to end the bloodshed and resume negotiations.

He made the offer of observers as part of international efforts to restore
security and rebuild confidence to enable negotiations to start.

But he was gloomy about the prospects of an early end to the violence. He
said the situation was "ghastly" and the bitterness so deep that teenage
Palestinians were becoming suicide bombers.

His assurances that Britain was committed to restarting political talks
failed to deflect his backbench critics, who fear that action against Iraq
could destabilise the whole region.

Mr Blair, while insisting that there would be no precipitate action, made
clear to MPs that military action to secure a change of regime in Iraq was a
real possibility.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory leader, asked him to confirm reports that he had
told President Bush that the Government would support and possibly
contribute to military action against Saddam if such action was needed.

Mr Blair replied: "The time for military action has not yet arisen."

While no decisions had been taken, doing nothing was not an option and the
world would be a better place without Saddam, Mr Blair said. But the method
of removing him was still "open to consultation".

"Saddam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction and we cannot
leave him unchecked. He is a threat to his own people and to the region -
and if allowed to develop these weapons, a threat to us also."

Mr Blair faced extensive questioning over his policy towards Iraq at a
meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Backbenchers packed the meeting
to listen to an address from Mr Blair which was devoted largely to domestic

He pointed out that it was the 10th anniversary of Labour's last election
defeat, using it as a peg on which to hang a plea for loyalty. Supporters
described it as a "commanding performance".

But eight of the 15 MPs who were able to question him ignored his speech and
tackled him on foreign policy.

They included Clive Soley, the former chairman of the parliamentary party,
who said the West would be accused of double standards if it allowed Israel
to defy United Nations resolutions but attacked Iraq.

The Left-winger Dennis Skinner criticised his dealings with two Right-wing
heads of government: George Bush and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy.

Mr Blair said: "I do not choose the president of the USA or the prime
minister of Italy, but I will work with any elected leader in the interests
of this country."

Mr Blair's critics said that many others would have joined the attack if
they had been called to speak. One MP complained: "That was the shoddiest
performance I have ever seen. He seemed to be on another planet."

The number of Labour MPs who have signed a motion expressing "deep unease"
about military action in Iraq has risen to 126 since the end of the Easter

One of the new names on the list is Helen Jackson, who was a former
parliamentary aide to Peter Mandelson. Mr Mandelson has said that the crisis
in Israel must be resolved before the West moves on to deal with Iraq.

Mrs Jackson appears to have been driven to opposing American policy in the
Middle East out of frustration over Washington's punitive tariffs on steel
imports, which could have a damaging impact on her Sheffield constituency.

F. Blair suffers backbench anger over Iraq action
By Philip Webster and David Charter

The Times
11 April 2002

TONY BLAIR faced down growing public and private Labour opposition over
military action against Iraq yesterday, leaving MPs in no doubt that he was
ready to back President Bush whenever the time came.
After earlier appealing to Labour MPs to concentrate their concerns on
domestic issues, such as the public services and the Budget, Mr Blair got an
unusually rough ride from his own side in the Commons when he declared that
the “time for military action has not yet arisen”.

His use of the word “yet” was further confirmation for MPs that Mr Blair is
prepared to take action designed to topple Saddam Hussein should that become
necessary. He said there was no doubt that the world would be a better place
without Saddam. “However, the method of doing this is open to consultation
and deliberation,” he said.

Many Labour MPs sat with their arms folded, withholding the customary
Question Time cheers for the Prime Minister, as one of them after another
stood up to raise concerns. At one point Mr Blair was subjected to minor
heckling after responding to claims that he had accused MPs of being naive.

At a packed meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party earlier Mr Blair tried
to rally his troops by devoting the majority of his speech to domestic
issues and repeating his promises on Iraq that nothing would be done

Donald Anderson, chairman of the all-party Foreign Affairs Committee, said
the meeting had been well-mannered. He said that Mr Blair had made plain
that “whatever will be done will be done when other options have been

He was summing up Mr Blair’s strategy. Knowing that military action is
probably at least a year away the Prime Minister is trying to build up
domestic and international support by using Saddam’s breach of UN
resolutions, particularly on allowing in weapons inspectors, as the basis
for future action.

Crucially, Mr Blair refused to say whether he believed another UN resolution
would be needed before military action is taken. Geoff Hoon, the Defence
Secretary, has suggested that a new resolution might not be needed, while
Clare Short has said that there should be one.

Mr Blair maintained to the PLP that there was nothing new in his American
speech, according to MPs present. Alice Mahon and Joan Ruddock said that
there must be another UN resolution, but Mr Blair did not respond. Ms Mahon
said it was “either deeply unhelpful or disgraceful” for Mr Hoon to have
said that they could not rule out use of nuclear weapons. Clive Soley and
Jon Owen Jones gave warning of a real gap opening up with Muslim communities
in their constituencies.

Mr Blair did say that progress in the Middle East must precede any decision
on Iraq but “to do nothing on Iraq is unacceptable”. Known critics said
afterwards that they had not been mollified by Mr Blair. Jeremy Corbyn said:
“I was not persuaded. Mostly his speech was on domestic matters, which was a
source of disappointment.”

Eric Illsley said he had not been reassured: “He has reiterated his position
that nothing is ruled out and nothing is ruled in, that the status quo
cannot be an option, and so he is still committed to military action. I
think the only thing today that perhaps might have changed is that the
timescale appears to be longer rather than shorter.”

In the Commons Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory leader, backed Mr Blair’s stance.
He said: “In the future, if left unchecked, Iraq will be able to deploy its
weapons of mass destruction against targets in Western Europe, including the

G. Delay and danger
More awkward challenges ahead for Blair on Iraq

The Times
11 April
Leading Article

While the substance of the Prime Minister’s statement to the House of
Commons yesterday concentrated on the crisis in the Middle East, most Labour
MPs were rather more concerned about the few sentences that he decided to
offer about Iraq. The situation in and around Israel, reiterated by another
appalling suicide bombing in Haifa, is more than bad enough to have
justified Tony Blair’s willingness to address it formally in Parliament. But
despite the disturbing nature of events, and Iain Duncan Smith’s evident
desire to place more weight on the failure of Yassir Arafat to condemn, let
alone to combat, Palestinian terrorism, the Prime Minister can reasonably
calculate that this strand of his foreign policy probably will not have
major domestic political implications.

The same is not, as Mr Blair knows, true of Saddam Hussein and Iraq. In the
short term, the perception which emerged from his meeting with President
Bush in Crawford, Texas, that direct military intervention is unlikely, for
logistical reasons, before 2003, may buy the Prime Minister some space and
time with his parliamentary colleagues. It allowed him yesterday to sound
tough — asserting, correctly, that “doing nothing is not an option” — while
at the same moment providing Labour MPs with the hope that enough time will
elapse for Saddam to agree to readmit weapons inspectors and thus render
conflict redundant. As a result, the scale of open dissent expressed
yesterday was not as wide or intense as might have been anticipated.

There are, however, real dangers which flow from delay that the Prime
Minister would be well advised to consider. While he is in strict terms
right to assert that “no decisions” have been made on the precise details of
when and how to deal with Iraq, he will not have left the United States
under any illusion about Mr Bush’s utter determination to act decisively
against a threat which his father but partially addressed and which his
immediate predecessor did little of lasting impact to extinguish. The only
circumstances in which this White House will not seek overtly to affect a
change of regime in Baghdad are if Saddam permits United Nations officials
to operate within Iraq in a fashion completely of their choosing or if
covert methods remove the Iraqi dictator.

Either of these outcomes might come to pass but the Prime Minister has to
assume that they will not. If so, then there is real political peril for Mr
Blair in the potential postponement of any offensive until the spring of
next year. The first difficulty is that Labour MPs and wider public opinion
alike might mistake “not now” for “never” and then be rudely disturbed
later. The second is that if there is to be a serious split within the
Labour Party over Iraq then it will be more damaging in the middle of this
Parliament than at its outset. The final, intriguing, element is that the
Prime Minister might have to make the tough decisions on a military
commitment against Saddam at the same time as he must reach a position as to
whether or not to call a referendum on the euro.

While the Government has encountered some turbulence in the first few months
of this year, matters could be much more awkward in 12 months time. Mr Blair
cannot therefore abandon his attempts to prepare party and public opinion
for combat in Iraq or overstate the prospects of a benign yet effective
solution being found in the meantime. He needs to continue to make the case
for confronting Saddam and eradicating every part of his infrastructure for
weapons of mass destruction as if an Anglo-American initiative were
plausible this autumn. In the circumstances yesterday it was understandable
that Mr Blair focused primarily on the Middle East and less about Iraq. He
must though, return soon to Saddam at considerable length and with absolute

H. Labour MPs accuse Blair of evading concerns over Iraq FOREIGN POLICY

Financial Times; Apr 11, 2002

Tony Blair failed to quell backbench anxiety over possible military action
against Iraq yesterday with MPs accusing him of ducking difficult questions
in a long private meeting.

Anger also boiled over during prime minister's questions when Mr Blair came
under pressure from his own side for the staunch support shown to George W.
Bush, US president.

MPs leaving the 75-minute meeting of the parliamentary Labour party
expressed disappointment that their concerns had not been addressed

Out of 15 questions, 10 were on Iraq as MPs sought guarantees over United
Nations involvement and what had been discussed with President Bush at
weekend talks.

Mr Blair stuck to his line that no action was imminent and that any action
would only follow a long consultation process. He also offered a full debate
on the Middle East next Tuesday, although there would be no vote.

Alice Mahon, Labour MP for Halifax, asked the prime minister for an
assurance that he would not endorse unilateral US action against Iraq
without a new UN mandate. She said she was "very disappointed" that her
points were not answered.

Some MPs asked for evidence that Saddam Hussein was posing an immediate
threat, while others asked why the UK and US were so keen on military action
when Iraq's neighbours opposed it.

At question time, Peter Kilfoyle, former defence minister, took issue with
Mr Blair over reports that he had called his foreign policy critics "naive".
"Is it naive to be wary of the bellicosity of elements within the US
administration, or is it naive to believe in the centrality of the UN in
solving the problems of the Middle East?" he asked.

So far, 125 Labour MPs have signed a motion voicing their concern over Iraq,
while many others have approached the whips office to express their anxiety.

A speech at the Mansion House last night by Jack Straw, foreign secretary,
justifying interference in the internal affairs of other nations is likely
to add to their fears.

In what MPs may interpret as a softening up exercise ahead of military
action in Iraq, Mr Straw said the global community "has the right" to

"Because we are one world, the global community has the right to make
judgments about countries' internal affairs, where they flout or fail to
abide by global values," Mr Straw said. "We must necessarily take a closer
interest in the internal behaviour of countries where this falls below
international standards."

Mr Straw believes that many conflicts have begun with domestic human rights
abuses and that earlier international intervention could nip problems in the

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