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Blair's Speech
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If you haven't read it yet, take the time to do so. It's long, but well worth it.

Some excerpts:

So: why does it matter so much? Because the outcome of this issue will now determine more than the fate of the Iraqi regime and more than the future of the Iraqi people, for so long brutalised by Saddam. It will determine the way Britain and the world confront the central security threat of the 21st century; the development of the UN; the relationship between Europe and the US; the relations within the EU and the way the US engages with the rest of the world. It will determine the pattern of international politics for the next generation.

Most notably our posture toward dictators hell-bent on acquiring WMD and brutally oppressing their citizenry.

Blair notes that disclosure and disarmament was supposed to take 15 days. That was in 1991.

It became clear after the Gulf war that the WMD ambitions of Iraq were far more extensive than hitherto thought. This issue was identified by the UN as one for urgent remedy. Unscom, the weapons inspection team, was set up. They were expected to complete their task following the declaration at the end of April 1991.

The declaration when it came was false - a blanket denial of the programme, other than in a very tentative form. So the 12-year game began.

And in a couple of hours, they will finally end.

On the newest British proposals:

So we constructed this framework: that Saddam should be given a specified time to fulfil all six tests to show full cooperation; that if he did so the inspectors could then set out a forward work programme and that if he failed to do so, action would follow.

So clear benchmarks; plus a clear ultimatum. I defy anyone to describe that as an unreasonable position.

Well? Were they?

France apparently thought so.

Last Friday, France said they could not accept any ultimatum. On Monday, we made final efforts to secure agreement. But they remain utterly opposed to anything which lays down an ultimatum authorising action in the event of non-compliance by Saddam.

Just consider the position we are asked to adopt. Those on the security council opposed to us say they want Saddam to disarm but will not countenance any new resolution that authorises force in the event of non-compliance.

That is their position. No to any ultimatum; no to any resolution that stipulates that failure to comply will lead to military action.

And this is the crucial point. These countries hypocritically voted for a resolution which clearly called for force in the abscence of compliance, but they are obviously unwilling to ever actually use force as a means to enforce their own words.

Let diplomacy run its course. Why rush to war? Let the inspectors do their job.

I have asked the question repeatedly, and it is not a rhetorical one: When do you say "enough"? How much longer is needed for you to finally say that diplomacy has run its course?

If you are opposed to the application of force as a means of enforcement, at least have the moral conviction to say so.

So we must demand he disarm but relinquish any concept of a threat if he doesn't. From December 1998 to December 2002, no UN inspector was allowed to inspect anything in Iraq. For four years, not a thing.

What changed his mind? The threat of force.


The only persuasive power to which he responds is 250,000 allied troops on his doorstep.

And yet when that fact is so obvious that it is staring us in the face, we are told that any resolution that authorises force will be vetoed. Not just opposed. Vetoed. Blocked.

Yes, the French, Germans, and Russians are against us, but they're wrong. They would lead us down an unending road of dithering and complacency.

Blair brings up the 1930's, but says the comparison really isn't the same. He makes the obvious point that so many over look, that I've harped on time and again...the world is different now.

But the world is ever more interdependent. Stock markets and economies rise and fall together. Confidence is the key to prosperity. Insecurity spreads like contagion. So people crave stability and order.

The threat is chaos. And there are two begetters of chaos. Tyrannical regimes with WMD and extreme terrorist groups who profess a perverted and false view of Islam.

What has made this change so clear?

11 September has changed the psychology of America. It should have changed the psychology of the world. Of course Iraq is not the only part of this threat. But it is the test of whether we treat the threat seriously.

And yet many still talk about containment and deterrence, Cold War concepts that simply do not map to the geopolitical realities confronting us now.

And in conclusion:

I can think of many things, of whether we summon the strength to recognise the global challenge of the 21st century and beat it, of the Iraqi people groaning under years of dictatorship, of our armed forces - brave men and women of whom we can feel proud, whose morale is high and whose purpose is clear - of the institutions and alliances that shape our world for years to come.

To retreat now, I believe, would put at hazard all that we hold dearest, turn the UN back into a talking shop, stifle the first steps of progress in the Middle East; leave the Iraqi people to the mercy of events on which we would have relinquished all power to influence for the better.

Tell our allies that at the very moment of action, at the very moment when they need our determination that Britain faltered. I will not be party to such a course. This is not the time to falter. This is the time for this house, not just this government or indeed this prime minister, but for this house to give a lead, to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right, to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk, to show at the moment of decision that we have the courage to do the right thing.

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