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[casi] Iraq adventure may cost Blair his job: Labour MP

                                Publisher: Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
                                Posted: 2002-07-29
                                London - A war against Iraq could cost Tony Blair his job, former 
Labour MP Tony Benn has warned.
                                The former MP for Chesterfield said Blair could suffer the same 
fate as Tory prime minister Sir
                                Anthony Eden, who was forced to resign in disgrace after launching 
an attack against Egypt during
                                the Suez crisis.

                                World statesmen like Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ted Heath 
and Jimmy Carter need to
                                speak out to “alert humanity to the danger that faces us”, Benn 

                                But Deputy Commons Leader Ben Bradshaw warned that ignoring the 
“threat” of the Iraqi president
                                could be difficult to defend.

                                “We simply cannot think that by hoping a threat will go away it 
will. It won’t and Saddam poses a very
                                real one,” he told Sky’s Sunday with Adam Boulton programme.

                                He was speaking as Benn, in an unusual plea for an arch 
left-winger, called on Conservatives and
                                Liberal Democrats to “act quickly” to stop military action against 

                                Writing in the predominantly right-wing Mail on Sunday, the former 
Chesterfield MP argued that while
                                Blair has stated that no decision has been taken about a war, US 
President George Bush expects UK

                                Last week, Blair told a “presidential” style press conference that 
war against Iraq was not imminent.

                                But Benn said that now Parliament has adjourned for its long summer 
recess, MPs will not have a
                                chance to question the government about a potential conflict. More 
than 20,000 British troops may
                                support an invasion involving a 200,000- strong US contingent, it 
is reported.

                                But Benn said such an invasion would contravene the United Nations 
Charter. “If Britain joins in, we
                                will be guilty of conducting an act of aggression and committing 
war crimes against those innocent
                                civilians who are bound to be killed.

                                “For there are many women living in Baghdad who will be widows 
within a few months and children
                                who will be orphans and homeless as a result of actions by British 
airmen or soldiers acting in our

                                “The responsibility for this will lie with the prime minister 
personally, as he will have taken the
                                decision without the authority of a vote in the House of Commons.”

                                Benn said he did not know whether Blair “appreciates the enormity” 
of acting in defiance of the UN,
                                “to kill people at the behest of President Bush”.

                                “But if, in the event, he does take that view, he could well 
forfeit his claim to the support of all those
                                across the whole spectrum of British opinion who see war as a moral 
issue. He will destroy his own
                                moral authority and relieve us of any obligations we may have to 
respect him.”

                                Benn said Labour MPs were the only people who could save Blair from 
making “a disastrous
                                mistake”. But he stressed: “I know that many Conservatives and 
Liberal Democrats are opposed to
                                the war, but they must act quickly, because if and when it begins, 
the government will try to shield
                                behind the men and women they have sent into battle, telling us we 
must support our own troops.”

                                A war against Iraq would inflame the Middle East. “If people of the 
stature of Nelson Mandela,
                                Mikhail Gorbachev, Ted Heath, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson, Ahmed 
Ben Bella, Boutros
                                Boutros-Ghali and others issued a strong statement reaffirming 
their commitment to the UN Charter,
                                this tragedy might be averted.”

                                Benn recalled in 1956 the demise of Sir Anthony Eden following the 
Suez crisis, when he proposed
                                sending troops into Egypt. “He was forced to resign in disgrace,” 
said Benn.

                                He advised Blair: “The prime minister should be warning President 
Bush, in the plainest possible
                                terms, that he should abandon his war plans or America will be 
totally isolated.

                                “A war with Iraq, which would certainly also alienate Russia and 
China and many of our European
                                partners, could cost Tony Blair his job, undermine public support 
for the government as a whole,
                                inflict untold suffering on millions – and must be stopped.”

                                But Bradshaw told the Sky programme he would not want to return to 
the programme in five years
                                time “after something terrible had happened and defend to you that 
we had ignored that threat”.

                                He admitted that there was an argument for a new UN resolution 
before military . But he ruled out a
                                vote by MPs ahead of any conflict, stressing that it was “not 

                                “No prime minister in British history has ever allowed their hands 
to be tied like that and none
                                would,” he said.

                                © 2002 [Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)].

- - - -
Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed

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