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Suzanne Bosworth © 2003

 

 
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At first it looked as though Tony Blair must really like George Bush.

After all, it's rare for a prime minister to be driven to face the flak Mr Blair has received from MPs, political commentators and anti-war protestors round the world, and watch his party support spurt away like blood from a severed artery, all in the name of allied friendship.

And what did the French do but vow to block a Second Resolution, which meant Tony was going to have to work even harder to find diplomatic concord.

We admired Chirac for digging in his heels and refusing to budge. It meant that we'd have to go back to the United Nations, and that the American reason-of-the-week for bombing Baghdad to bits still wasn't legal or moral. And we resented Tony for losing his temper and making personal remarks about the French.

Blessed are the cheesemakers, we said. Passez-nous les plumes de nos tantes and let's write to all their newspapers and tell them so.

It was enough to make a harried man reach for his gun.

So he did. Or rather, he made lots of other men reach for theirs. Tony summoned his arms, rushed to hold Dumbya's hand and they unleashed a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. With not enough troops, it now seems, to assure victory. Under-overkill.

Look at it from Tony's point of view. Why spend day after day sweating it out in Parliament and on political TV shows and dashing off to sway racalcitrant countries into tagging along, when Rupert Murdoch will guarantee popular support for Our Boys? Especially when you've already spread yourself so thin by making yourself available to discuss Northern Ireland and attending so many other social and political engagements that you can't give the UN and diplomacy your full attention. Unlike Chirac, who promised to go to New York and stick his veto up George's jumper, Tony chose to stop representing and speaking for the British people and instead took a leaf out of the American administration's book and selected his own reason for bombing Iraq. It was now his deep personal conviction that this was a just and moral war of liberation and that he was right and everyone else was wrong.

Then he flew off to Belgium, leaving behind a pre-recorded video that told the British people we were now officially at war.

Actually he'd caved in.

Maybe he thought we wouldn't say anything. Maybe he thought we'd all give up too and stick our banners in the cupboard and stop writing letters and rattling cages and keep our mouths shut and just join the conga line.

Well we didn't. We marched and wrote and lobbied and sat down in roads. We didn't give up, and we haven't gone away, and the global anti-war movement grows by the day.

As does the death toll, of Iraqis and coalition military alike. What was initially sold to the gullible and the self-deluding as a quick-fix While-U-Wait regime-remover for the Iraqi people has had the fleece torn off its back to be revealed for what it was all along. A cold-blooded slavering wolf called American interest.

It was the pressure. When Tony Blair caved in he proved to us that he wouldn't stand up to the bullying and the arm twisting of an American administration bent on putting the Middle East into the blender. And he'd put too much on his own plate. He needed to have nothing else to work on but the issue of the United Nations and the prospect - or not - of committing British troops to a long and bloody onslaught.

The people of Iraq, now injured and dying and terrified, deserved more than that. They should have had his full attention and he should have stuck it out with the French and the rest of the nations united against the prospect of war.

They deserved his time and patience.

Since Tony Blair clearly has trouble standing his ground when cornered at the eleventh hour, we must make sure he is not re-elected to office. He'll have all the time and space he could possibly want then. And we need to find more people of courage in this country who listen to and speak for the people they represent, and make sure this never happens again.

   
   
   

 

 
   
         

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