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Panorama
Blair the neo-conservative?
Tony Blair
Right wing thinkers in the US have praised the Prime Minister
Tony Blair is "a neo-conservative", according to some of the most hawkish thinkers in the US.

The startling claim from some of the key players in the neo-conservative movement was made on BBC One's Panorama programme to be broadcast on Sunday.

Neo-conservative is a broad term used to describe some of the right wing thinkers who are currently thought to have an influence on George W Bush's view of the world.

They tend to have three things in common.

That they are prepared to use military force for moral purposes - unilaterally if necessary - have shifted their political beliefs from the Left to the Right, and are strong believers in religion.

Liberate

Richard Perle
I suppose he'd be horrified to hear that

Richard Perle, American Enterprise Institute

Richard Perle, of the think tank the American Enterprise Institute, has been dubbed "the prince of darkness" by his critics.

He thinks that Blair and the neo-conservatives have a lot in common.

He said: I think Tony Blair's moral sense is, very much reflected in the thinking of many neo conservatives.

"I suppose he'd be horrified to hear that, especially since the term neo conservative is so abused. But his sense that it was right to liberate Iraq, is the sense of neo conservatives and was not the view of most foreign offices, including probably his own."

Another leading neo-conservative who thinks he shares a link with Tony Blair is William Kristol.

Use of force

He is chairman of the Project for a New American Century, which advocates increased defence spending and utilising American might to shape the world.

He also publishes a right wing newspaper called the Weekly Standard, for which the White House has a subscription.

He told Panorama: "Tony Blair does have a fundamental understanding of this. That for justice and liberty to prevail in the world, force sometimes has to be used.

"Its very nice to sit around and say we're in Europe, and we believe in the rule of law, we believe in the United Nations but Saddam Hussein is there, and he's a dictator and he has weapons of mass destruction

"And are you going to do something about it or not, and in so far as Tony Blair's answer was yes, and in so far as Tony Blair's answer was yes, even if the rest of the UN security council doesn't agree with us."

"I think Tony Blair is a kind of neo conservative, despite himself."

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