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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | February 19, 2003

Blair faces party revolt; US loses Canada

It is clear that the governments of the UK, Spain, and Italy have real decisions to make -- to represent the will of their people or risk losing power in defense of Bush's invasion.

In England, support for Blair and the war are plummeting despite a months-long PR campaign to prop up popular support. And, Labor's left wing is openly talking revolt if Britain goes to war without UN Security Council approval.

"This is crunch time for Tony Blair," said Alan Simpson, a leader of Labor's antiwar faction in the House of Commons. "He can lead the war party or the Labor Party, but he can't lead both. It's quite clear if he goes off to war, he will have left the party behind him."
Blair's political difficulties seem to have convinced the US to seek a second resolution, even while publicly arguing it doesn't require one. In any case, compare Blair's elegant rhetoric to Bush's absolutist tripe:
At the news conference, Blair acknowledged the depth of political opposition and pleaded with Britons to give him a fair hearing. "It's one of these issues where you've got a duty to try and say to people what you believe," he said. "Look, I don't pretend to have a monopoly of wisdom in these issues, or that I always know what's right and everybody else is wrong. I totally understand why people march and oppose what we're doing. I just ask people to listen to the other side of the argument." He also said, "There is no rush to war."
Could you imagine Bush saying "I don't have a monopoly on wisdom"? Never would happen.

In Italy, pro-Bush Berlusconi is facing mass protests and the possibility of a general strike if war is launched. Practically his ruling coalition has the numbers to authorize logistical support to US forces (the Italian Senate has already done so), though the center-left opposition has mounted a spirited effort against war.

Meanwhile, Canada has finally come out against a new Iraq war without a second UN Security Council resolution.

After weeks of dodging questions from opposition leaders about Canada's position, Mr. Chrétien ended the fence-sitting and told MPs yesterday that if the Security Council refuses to authorize a war, the United States will have to do without the help of its closest ally and largest trading partner if it decides to pursue a military campaign to remove Saddam Hussein.

"We have not been asked and we do not intend to participate in a group of the willing," he said in reply to a question from Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe.

"If (the Americans) want to go there all alone, they can go there all alone, but we say they must go with the authorization of the United Nations.

"If they don't, the international system of peace and security will probably be more destabilized than it need be."

Posted February 19, 2003 08:08 AM | Comments (34)


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