- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher last night said the collapse of the Taliban in Afghanistan showed that terrorism could be defeated and criticized European powers that "grumble on the sidelines" in the war against terror.
"Victory in Afghanistan showed that the doubters were wrong, the war against terrorism can be won," she said of the war against terrorism. "The West must win."
Mrs. Thatcher made her remarks in Washington last night after receiving the Heritage Foundation's Clare Boothe Luce Award from Vice President Richard B. Cheney.
The former prime minister made her speech before a dinner at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, a building she noted was named for her international partner in bringing down the Soviet empire and winning the Cold War over communism.
In introducing her, Mr. Cheney praised her "sturdy British common sense" and her "bulldoglike British tenacity" and said about the Cold War that "a good deal of the credit for that happy outcome belongs to Lady Thatcher."
After those congratulations, Mrs. Thatcher herself gave credit to "Ronald Reagan, with whom I worked in harness" and praised the U.S.-British alliance as the linchpin in the war against terrorism.
She said she was glad that Britain remains "America's surest and staunchest ally" and noted that although Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair was a political "opponent" of hers, she was glad to see his "strong and bold leadership" in the war on terrorism.
She indirectly criticized other European powers such as France and Germany, lamenting "wealthy nations who have much to offer and much to lose" but choose to "grumble on the sidelines."
"I'm being pretty candid tonight," she said, sparking laughter and applause.
Mrs. Thatcher also had warm words for President Bush.
"I'm glad America's commander in chief is made of such stern stuff," she said.
Twelve years ago, Mrs. Thatcher encouraged the current president's father when he had to confront Saddam Hussein. After Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Mrs. Thatcher said, President George H.W. Bush at first indicated the United States would not intervene, but he changed course after a conversation with the British leader, who told him: "George, this is no time to go wobbly."
Mrs. Thatcher's career as Britain's leader during the last decade of the Cold War made her one of the world's most famous women. Born Margaret Hilda Roberts in 1925, she married Denis Thatcher in 1951. A year later, she was elected to the House of Commons as a member of the Conservative Party.
Mrs. Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975 and led the party to victory in 1979, vowing to reverse Great Britain's economic decline. The Conservatives repeated their victories in 1983 and 1987, making Mrs. Thatcher the only 20th-century British prime minister to serve three consecutive terms.
As prime minister, she privatized many enterprises that had been nationalized by the socialist Labor Party. Public housing units were sold to their former tenants. Mrs. Thatcher cut taxes and broke the hold of unions over Britain's politics, refusing to meet the demands of striking coal miners in 1984.
Mrs. Thatcher also had a major effect in foreign affairs as a staunch anti-communist and reliable American ally. After Argentina invaded the British-held Falkland Islands in 1982, she sent a military task force that defeated the invaders.
She resigned as prime minister in November 1990, handing control of the Conservative Party to John Major. In 1992, she resigned from the House of Commons and was named Baroness Thatcher and a member of the House of Lords, where she has since continued to speak out on public issues, including her opposition to granting too much power to the European Union.
The Clare Boothe Luce Award was established in 1991 "to honor those who exemplify conservative ideals," according to the Heritage Foundation.


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