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EDITIONS
Sunday, 11 August, 2002, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Menzies Campbell MP, Liberal Democrat, Foreign Affairs
Menzies Campbell MP
Menzies Campbell MP
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST
HOSTED BY FERGAL KEANE
INTERVIEW:
MENZIES CAMPBELL MP,
LIBERAL DEMOCRAT, FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AUGUST 11TH, 2002

FERGAL KEANE:
I'm joined now from Edinburgh by the Liberal Democrat's foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell. Menzies Campbell, can I just start by asking you, picking up from what we were talking about with David Hare, the whole issue now of a war with Iraq, do you believe that it's, if not imminent, then at least inevitable?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
I think there's a very strong likelihood of it and although this week there was at least one occasion when it seemed as if President Bush was, if not drawing back, at least talking about being a patient man and suggesting that military action might be put off. The general mood, I think, in Washington now is one that this is something that ought to be done. That's why it is all the more important that the United Kingdom should be expressing the kind of reservations which are felt so strongly among so many members of the public here, and in particular too among members, people with expertise like Douglas Hurd and Dennis Healy this week, and also expressing the reservations which so many church men and women feel as they demonstrated in the presentation of a petition to No. 10 Downing Street earlier.

FERGAL KEANE:
Should Tony Blair be recalling Parliament to discuss this?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
I think if there is any material political or military change then the case for the recall of Parliament would be unanswerable.

FERGAL KEANE:
Do you not think that exists at the moment?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
No. I don't believe that there is any urgent requirement. But if there was to be a stepping up, in any sense, of military preparations on this side of the Atlantic, or more obviously on the other side of the Atlantic, then I think the case for the recall of Parliament would be overwhelming. I mean we are, I think in Parliament, about to change this procedure which allows us to go off at the end of July for approximately three months - and as history has shown, these three months are often the months in which quite dramatic world events take place, not least the 11th of September last year, so I think that the notion that Parliament should not express its opinion on these matters if there is some significant development, is one that is simply unsustainable.

FERGAL KEANE:
Isn't it the simply reality that we now live in a situation of huge American power, America which still feels itself profoundly threatened by terrorism, and they will do, President Bush will go ahead with this attack whatever Tony Blair says, or indeed whatever you say?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
Well I hope he doesn't go ahead irrespective of the views of others and the reservations of people like our prime minister.

FERGAL KEANE:
You hope that but isn't it likely that he will?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
I think there is a likelihood - I said that a moment or two ago - and I think we've got to recognise, and I, my analysis is not based on any crude anti-Americanism, I rather approved of the approach that David hare outlined a moment or two ago, part of my education in the United States and therefore I think, I hope I have some small understanding of the way the political system there works. But I think what we have seen is the emergence of the United States as the only economic and military super power and there now seems to have grown up in Washington the notion that security is best achieved by the use of military force whereas here in Europe we believe in a collective approach, we believe in co-operation, we believe in alliances. And if these divisions become yet more exacerbated, then I think the relationship between North America and Europe, which after all was successful in winning the Second World War and preserving the peace thereafter and winning the Cold War, that vitally important relationship could be very substantially damaged.

FERGAL KEANE:
And the special relationship which exists between Britain and the United States, how much at risk is that at the moment?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
Well there are those, of course, who try to argue against the use of that expression, but there is a special relationship in the sense that as far as the Americans are concerned the British are always the ally of first choice and vice versa. If America goes to war it, if you like, always wants to have the British on the right flank. But this is an issue, so far as the prime minister is concerned, where he really has to have regard, not only to opinion in the House of Commons, but also in the country. And it was notable in the Falklands, Margaret Thatcher had public opinion on her side; John Major, again, in the Gulf War; Tony Blair himself, in relation to the action we took in Kosovo. A prime minister who goes to war without the knowledge that he has the security of public opinion behind him is taking a very substantial political risk.

FERGAL KEANE:
What does he need to tell you and to tell the British people that would justify joining an American military action in Iraq?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
There is no existing Security Council resolution which justifies what the Americans call regime change. But under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, a country is entitled to take action in its own defence and although pre-emptive action is not specifically referred to, it's my judgement, from a legal point of view as much as a political one, that pre-emptive action is probably justified but, and only but if there is imminent risk to the country that thinks it's under threat of attack. What the American constitution calls clear and present danger has got to be present. Now so far there has been no evidence of that whatsoever.

FERGAL KEANE:
But you have said - you argue in an article in The Guardian earlier this week, that we must assume that Saddam is developing weapons of mass destruction - if you're willing to go that far, what else do you need to satisfy you for an attack?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
Well I think it is a valid assumption that he has continued with the biological and the chemical weapons programmes, and I think it's also a reasonable assumption that he's trying for a nuclear capability. I think there's strong evidence to suggest he would have had a nuclear capability but for the Gulf War.

FERGAL KEANE:
So would you just sit back and let him develop it?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
No of course not. I would maintain the strategy of containment and deterrents, and in fact I would underline the deterrents. What's happened, I think in recent weeks, is people have tended to focus on containment but remember deterrents makes it clear, if it is couched in sufficiently strong terms, that in the event of any use, or any threat of use of weapons of mass destruction, then the response would be - as James Baker famously put it in the period running up to the Gulf War to Tariq Aziz, the response would be disproportionate. If you use these weapons, if you threaten to use them, then you can expect a very, very considerable reaction.

FERGAL KEANE:
One very brief question on Zimbabwe - this weekend the deadline for white farmers to move off their farms - do you think that the British Government has a moral obligation to do more now to help Zimbabwe in its moment of crisis?

MENZIES CAMPBELL:
If I can just say this, I mean it may well turn into President Mugabe's epitaph that he inherited a rich, fertile country and turned it into a wilderness. It takes a particular kind of madness to drive farmers off their farms at a time when many of your countrymen may be facing hunger and starvation. I think what the British Government should now do - it's resisted doing it up till now - it should say that the money that was on the table for a compensation scheme, according to law, properly worked out, properly administered, that that money will now be available, if necessary, to those farmers who have been driven off their land and who are either seeking to begin farming elsewhere in southern Africa, or indeed who want to relocate here to the United Kingdom. I think we have to be generous in the financial compensation which we now offer to those who, for no fault of their own, find themselves now dispossessed.

FERGAL KEANE:
Menzies Campbell, thank you very, very much.


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