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[casi] Independent-UK on Blair to Congress. link included.

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Blair: History will be my judge

PM defiant in address to Congress

By Donald Macintyre in Washington

18 July 2003

Tony Blair defied critics of the war against Iraq last night by declaring, in
effect, that he will be vindicated by history even if weapons of mass
destruction are not found.In a speech to a rare joint session of Congress in
Washington, he insisted that Saddam Hussein's illegal arsenals would be found. But he
also sought to lift the debate above the growing chorus of complaints about
the intelligence used to justify the war. "Can we be sure that terrorism and
weapons of mass destruction will join together? Let us say one thing. If we are
wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that is at its least responsible for
human carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will
forgive," he said. "But if our critics are wrong, if we are right  as I believe
with every fibre of instinct and conviction I have that we are  and we do not
act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have
given leadership. That is something history will not forgive." He went on:
"The risk is that terrorism and states developing WMD come together. When people
say that risk is fanciful, I say we know the Taliban supported al-Qa'ida, we
know Iraq under Saddam gave haven to and supported terrorists." The controversy
over the war with Iraq and the false evidence used to promote it to the
British and American public has rocked Mr Blair much more than it has President
George Bush. Having received a rapturous welcome when he entered the Congress, Mr
Blair said it was a welcome that he was not used to in Britain. Yet Mr Blair
tempered his praise of the US as "a light of liberty" with a clear message
that it had to do more to work multilaterally with its allies. He preceded his
remarks justifying the war against Iraq with a warning that "at least one state,
North Korea, lets its people starve whilst spending billions of dollars on
developing nuclear weapons and exporting the technology abroad". The Prime
Minister's address to Congress  just the fourth British leader to be so honoured 
was assured, but his appearance later at a joint press conference with
President Bush was less convincing. At one point, repeating that Britain stood by
the claim  dropped by the US  that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger, he
tried to bolster his case by saying Saddam had made such purchases from the
African country in the 1980s. Both leaders struggled to answer why no weapons of
mass destruction had been discovered in Iraq. Mr Bush in particular gave a
meandering, unfocused answer when asked. "[Saddam] possessed chemical weapons and
biological weapons. I strongly believe he was trying to reconstitute his
nuclear weapons programme and I will remind the sceptics that in 1991 it became
clear that Saddam Hussein was much closer to developing a nuclear weapon than
anybody ever imagined," he said. "We won't be proven wrong ... We will bring the
information forward on the weapons when they find them." Mr Blair has risked a
great deal by sticking so closely to Mr Bush, but he said the alternative was
not an option. In his speech to Congress, he delivered a thinly veiled attack
on states such as France which failed to support the war in Iraq. "Any
alliance must start with America and Europe," he said. "If Europe and America are
together, the others will work with us. But if we split, all the rest will play
around, play us off and nothing but mischief will be the result of it,. "There
is no more dangerous theory in international politics today than that we need
to balance the power of America with other competitor powers, different poles
around which nations gather." He balanced this with a message to the US not to
"give up on Europe" but to work with it, saying: "It's not the coalition that
determines the mission but the mission [that determines] the coalition. I
agree. But let us start preferring a coalition and [only] acting alone if we have
to, not the other way around." The Prime Minister said terrorism could not be
defeated by military means alone and that a peace settlement in the Middle
East was essential. "Here it is that the poison is incubated. Here it is that
the extremist is able to confuse in the mind of a frighteningly large number of
people the case for a Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel," he

Roger Stroope
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff USA

During the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, psychologist Gustave Gilbert
visited Nazi Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering in his prison cell. "We got around to
the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not
think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war
and destruction," Gilbert wrote in his journal, Nuremberg Diary.

"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would
some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can
get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? ... That is
understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy
and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a
democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship
... That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and
denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to
danger. It works the same way in any country."

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