- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2002

BLACKPOOL, England The world must send Saddam Hussein an ultimatum about weapons of mass destruction and be ready to back up tough talk with force, Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday.
Bolstered by a vote of support from his war-wary Labor Party, Mr. Blair delivered an impassioned, hourlong speech that left him sweating from exertion, saying Britain must be ready to face the danger Iraq poses.
"There are times when caution is retreat and retreat is dangerous," he told the party's annual gathering in the northern English resort of Blackpool.
"I know the worry over Iraq. People accept Saddam is bad. But they fear it's being done for the wrong motives. They fear us acting alone," he said. "Let us lay down the ultimatum. Let Saddam comply with the will of the U.N."
If he doesn't comply, Mr. Blair said, "Here is the hard part. If we lose our collective will to deal with it, we will lose the authority not of the United States, or of Britain, but of the United Nations."
In a wide-ranging speech that dealt largely with domestic issues, Mr. Blair linked the showdown with Saddam to efforts to better the world, renew Britain and modernize his party.
The address echoed what some observers called the almost missionarylike zeal shown by Mr. Blair in his address to last year's Labor Party conference, shortly after the September 11 terror attacks, during which he said the uncertainty in the world provided a chance to remake it for the better.
"I believe we're at our best when at our boldest," he said yesterday. "We need coalitions not just to deal with evil by force if necessary, but coalitions for peace, coalitions to tackle poverty and ignorance and disease."
The prime minister said that when dealing with dictators, sometimes "the only hope for peace is the readiness for war."
Mr. Blair has been President Bush's strongest ally in the campaign to build international support for action against Saddam, but talk of war with Iraq has stirred up opposition in Parliament, his party and the general public.
The United States and Britain have put forward a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council that includes an authorization for use of military force if Iraq does not comply on weapons inspections.
While acknowledging that many resent the power of the United States, Mr. Blair defended his close relationship with Mr. Bush and dismissed criticism that he too closely follows Washington's lead.
"The basic values of America are our values, too Britain and Europe and they are good values," Mr. Blair said.
"My vision of Britain is not the 51st state of anywhere, but I believe in this alliance, and I will fight long and hard to preserve it," despite what he called widespread anti-Americanism in Britain and elsewhere.
Labor has been divided for months over Mr. Blair's stance on Iraq, but conference delegates gave him a crucial vote of support Monday, when they passed a motion supporting the use of force against Saddam if all else fails and the United Nations supports it.
Iraq yesterday told neighboring NATO member Turkey that Ankara would put itself at risk and destroy friendship with Baghdad if it backed possible U.S. military strikes.
"We, whether we're in Ankara or Baghdad, believe the threat against Iraq is at the same time a threat against Turkey," Reuters news agency quoted Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz as saying after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide