Posted Wednesday, February 19, 2003

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  Those one and a half million people who marched on Saturday are not the only ones who feel war would be wrong, needless and a total disaster. Each of them represents many more. --
Tuesday, February 18, 2003


The Daily Mirror
London, February 17 2003
(Britain's multi-million circulation tabloid)


Tony BlairWHEN the Daily Mirror launched its campaign against the war on Iraq we were dismissed as lefty peaceniks, just opposing military action for the sake of it.

As the campaign continued the abuse intensified - we were accused of being 'hysterical, of "cynically chasing new readers, of over-reacting".

The crescendo of negativity reached a nadir with our BLOOD ON HIS HANDS front page, powerfully illustrating John Pilger's ferocious attack on Tony Blair for the impending slaughter of Iraqi civilians.

This was crass, offensive and way too personal, our critics said. Yet it was the exact same phrase Mr Blair used to denigrate the 1.5 million people who protested in London on Saturday.

What is now absolutely clear is that the Daily Mirror is right about this war. And Tony Blair is wrong. The Prime Minister is not a stupid man so he must realise in his astute head that he is beaten logically, politically and democratically.

The only support he has in this country is from a few lapdogs in the Cabinet - take a bow, John Prescott - the Tory leadership and newspapers owned by George W Bush admirers living in America.

Those one and a half million people who marched on Saturday are not the only ones who feel war would be wrong, needless and a total disaster. Each of them represents many more.

Mirror front pageIt was the biggest demonstration this country has ever seen. It rivalled the magnificent anti-Vietnam marches in the United States in the 70s.

In the past, protesters have been sneered at as long-haired hippies. That couldn't be said about Saturday's demonstrators. Young and old, working, middle, and upper class... Countless thousands of ordinary people united on one fundamental principle - war against Iraq at this time is wrong, wrong, wrong.

It is because Mr Blair knows he has lost the argument that he is lashing out. He claims to have scaled the moral high ground and accuses those who oppose his views of being as guilty as Saddam of murdering his victims.

Had the Prime Minister talked to the demonstrators, he would have found hardly any who supported the Iraqi tyrant - and the Mirror has no time for those who do.

Being against Saddam - or any other terrible regime - is a moral position to take. Sending in bombers to obliterate them, wiping out thousands of innocents in the process, is not part of most people's definition of morality.

If this sounds like hysteria, the Daily Mirror doesn't mind. If it takes obsessional, hysterical, head-banging to get over the message that this war must not happen, so be it. The option - though you wouldn't know this to listen to Mr Blair - is not between waging war and being obliterated by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. There is a real, workable alternative - to control him through tough use of UN weapons inspectors. Which is the alternative backed by most countries and the vast majority of people in Britain.

Having lost the argument, it is Tony Blair who is plunging down the road of hysteria. Playing the morality card is not just offensive and ridiculous, but dangerous.

Where would it end? Having taken out Saddam, where would the US-British axis turn to next? Which other objectionable, tyrannical regimes would become targets for our bombs and invasion forces?

Will they be sent in to remove Zimbabwe's President Mugabe for driving his people into starvation? How about the terrible anti-human-rights record of the Chinese Government - would we take on their immense population? Or what about the attitude of the Saudis to women and human rights? Or Israel's defiance of UN resolutions? It all smacks of one rule for Iraq and another for everyone else.

We should be told if we have just heard the Blair Doctrine - coming second-hand from the dangerous men who run today's White House - which will become our foreign and military policy at the start of the 21st Century.

The world has one omnipotent power, whose military spending outstrips every other nation put together. That country, unlike those in Europe, has hardly suffered from attack. Yet this White House wants to bombard Iraq and then who-knows-where next. And it wishes to take the United Kingdom along on its coat-tails, a conspirator to mass slaughter.

If we are talking morality, perhaps Tony Blair could explain the morality in rigging reports of "evidence" to justify military invasion? Both America and the British Government have done that in the past few days. Or maybe the Prime Minister could debate morality with some of the fundamentalists who threaten this country because they believe we live an immoral lifestyle.

Morality is the last refuge of a discredited politician. The final desperate hiding place of those who have lost the argument but refuse to accept defeat.

Tony Blair should ask himself if he is Prime Minister of a nation so steeped in immorality that one and a half million of its people will march to support their views.

Or whether the people of this country are desperately worried at the prospect of being dragged into a divisive, dangerous and murderous war.

There will not be blood on the hands of those who seek peace with strength. And we don't want there to be on Tony Blair's, either.

The Mirror will go on shouting that loudly, clearly, and if necessarily hysterically, until Mr Blair listens.


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