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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Should Britain take part in action against Iraq?
Prime Minister Tony Blair is facing growing criticism about Britain's involvement in any possible military action against Iraq.
He will shortly meet Labour MPs and is also expected make a statement to the House of Commons about the crisis in the Middle East. Iraq is likely to feature at both events.
Alarm was sparked among Labour MPs following Tony Blair's warning that Britain could join US-led military action against Saddam Hussein.
Mr Blair has described those opposed to action against Iraq as "naive". At the same time, Downing Street has stressed that military strikes are "not imminent".
What do you think Britain should do about Iraq? Is military action justified?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I am proud to be an American but I am not proud to see all this talk of war and invasion. I do not agree with Saddam's policies, but, if we attacked everyone we disagreed with, then how peaceful would the world be? And what would these attacks solve? Aren't we making an already unstable situation worse?
I hope Britain does not support invading Iraq. Both Britain and the US have enough political and economic power to enact change without ever using the word "war" again.
It's up to the people to be vocal about their feelings in hopes that their government will listen!
I am glad to see that some people realise the seriousness of war. It makes me very angry that we live in a "democracy" and yet we get no say in whether we become involved in killing innocent people. I do not deny that Saddam is evil, but a bombing campaign against Iraq will only kill innocent civilians, and that makes us as bad as the terrorists that we are fighting. I hear some of you talk about military action as if it is so simple, but every time we drop bombs, people die. Think about that. I agree with several of you when I say we should look to resolve the conflict in Israel and Palestine before starting one of our own.
We in the UK must give Blair more credit. He has an amazing vision, and I'm afraid that a regime change is necessary to protect the Iraqi people and the will record how we act, and I hope that we will be proud to say in a couple of years that nuclear devastation was averted.
Absolutely not! Iraq, in my view, is, at best, a Vietnam waiting to happen. At worst, it is futile. American unilateralism means unilateralism, not unilateralism when everything's going well, but when times are prospectively tough inviting British complicity. You're on your own, Mr. Bush.
Iraq, is a prime candidate for the British and US forces to destroy and rebuild. I fear, however, the longer we wait the more animosity builds against the US because of the situation in Israel. We should move quickly and with care for the population in order to stem the propaganda Saddam feeds his people. Let's finish the job this time!
How lucky the British people are, that they have clear thinking, rational MPs to protect them from this crazy Iraq/Saddam obsession that the USA has. Bush Snr didn't finish the job, so now they are sending in Bush Jnr.
As for Tony Blair, why don't you concentrate on how to deal with the longstanding Ireland crisis?
All these double standards in the Middle East are sowing the seeds for future large-scale tragedies.
S. Kenyani, UK/Iraq
I don't think there's any moral argument that the Iraqi people - and the Middle East - deserve better than leaders like Saddam Hussein. But there are practical objections. Yes, we may be able to take Iraq apart (although that's by no means certain); but are we really prepared to pick up the bill for putting the pieces back together again? I think we've got less and less stomach to do that.
Most Iraqis are currently facing a huge dilemma, we want to get rid of Saddam, but not only do we not want to risk the lives of many innocent civilians, we also don't trust the Americans. The Americans called for an uprising against Saddam after the Gulf War, then left without aiding, leaving all the uprisers to be killed and tortured.
Secondly, a new government that America would have in Saddam's place is a pro-American government like Kuwaits and Saudis, for another ally in the area. A democratic government will most likely lead to a shi'a Ally to Iran, and somehow I don't think the US wants that.
Morals and ethical debates aside, any action without the full backing of the UN takes the dream of world peace one step further away. The thing that really worries me, though, is the way Bush seems to be getting more and more power-hungry, and the way Tony Blair is happy to assist in his quest for world domination.
As an Iraqi, who lost many of my family members during the Gulf Crimes against Iraq, I am sick of hearing the western politicians talking about the suffering of the Iraqi people. What a Joke - lift the sanctions first if you care.
The Truth of the Matter is that Iraq under the rule of Saddam is our enemy. And generally it is a good idea to eliminate your enemies. Diplomacy dictates that we sometimes make deals with people we don't like (ie: US support for Iraq in the War with Iran, and US support for Israel today), but that is just how the world works, we don't always like it, but there are lots of things that are not nice in this world. Iraq is a rogue state by our standards, so if we can't get the assurances of their good behaviour that we want we should take action to ensure we get those assurances.
No, of course we shouldn't. Every time the US has a war, we get invited to provide the infantry. Every time we try to further our own overseas interests, the USA stands in our way. Let them fight their own war for a change. Or at least we should follow their example in WW2, and demand money for it.
As we are a democracy it is not for Tony Blair to decide whether we should attack Iraq or not. If Tony Blair has evidence that Iraq are manufacturing weapons of mass destruction this information should be made public. There should then be a free vote within parliament for MPs to decide whether we should go to war based on the evidence.
Mike, Czech Republic
I propose that the UK no longer takes part to the European Union. They'd better ask to be the next star on the US flag.
If mass destruction is what Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are trying to prevent, by attacking Iraq, then there is a mass destruction of land, lives and infrastructure going on in the Palestinian occupied territories. But then again when it comes to enforcing their so-called "democratic principles" on Israel, Bush and Blair wouldn't dare...Double Standards anyone?
Do the USA and the UK have weapons of mass destruction?
Have these weapons been controlled and inspected by international inspectors? Have the USA and the UK used these weapons of mass destruction in the past (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Malvinas, Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan...)? Do they still build them? Should they also be treated like a Muslim state?
John F, Australia
The Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was democratically voted for by the Iraqi people , The US and UK have no right to attack Iraq or to remove Saddam Hussein just to satisfy America's and England's political needs and aggressive interests .
I think America should think about what it has created by distributing weapons to the countries, which are out to destroy others.
Why can the US and Britain threaten to target Iraq militarily for invading a neighbour, resisting Security Council resolutions and alleged development of weapons of mass destruction, while it is absolutely OK for Israel to invade neighbours, totally ignore piles of UN resolutions, and confirm developing nuclear warheads?
These are the kind of questions that suicide bombers blow themselves up trying to find answers to.
No, the USA is not afraid of Saddam, anyway that's what he always says "He is not afraid of the USA". I think he should be afraid, after all we have bunker busters now. Personally I would take many bulldozers and cover Saddam over, so no one can dig him out, and no one hears from him again, buried by a mountain put on top of him.
Britain should be one of the pillars of almost real democracy and be available to control various dictatorships around the world with whatever it takes. There are not many countries willing to defend ideology. Therefore it is very important to have a role model, Britain.
The Iraqi people have suffered totally unjustifiable pain and horror for almost twelve years now.
Israel, America and Britain now qualify as the most hated nations in the world, and an attack on Iraq would justifiably intensify that hate.
Israel has weapons of mass destruction, and is openly defying the only country which has used them. How dangerous can that situation be? Also I did not like the condescending attitude of Ms Follett, whereby she is forced to carry out the wishes of her constituents, instead of the wishes of Tony Blair
To add to my previous comment, I don't see why Mr Blair and Mr Bush give themselves the right to decide the fate of an entire nation to which they have no relation to. Also, why are weapons of mass destruction only referred to as "weapons of mass destruction" when it is non-white people that own them? I mean, doesn't America, England, and a few other countries own the so-called "weapons of mass destruction"? Why do they give themselves the right to own such weapons and deny this right to others?
It is really sad to see an empire like Great Britain tagging along behind the States, trusting the Americans blindly. Where is Britain's gain in involving itself in a military operation against Iraq? Also, why isn't there any military action being taken against Israel? They have violated a few UN resolutions too you know! Why did Mr Bush and Mr Blair decide to disregard this fact?
At this point, it would not be the right thing for the UK to involve itself with lashing out at Iraq. Mr. Blair should be involved in stopping the Israeli/Palestinian issue, which will, when fixed, stop most if not all of the unpleasantness now gripping the Middle East. The war on terror is America's war. Mr. Blair should think very carefully what he will be doing to the people of UK if he continues to support the US on this subject. And remember, with all the sanctions against Iraq, its not Saddam Hussein who is suffering, its his people. Does the US and UK what them to suffer more.
The United States would definitely appreciate assistance from our best friend in the world, but we will go it alone if we must. There is no question that the American military is going to take out Hussein with the full support of the American people.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I always thought it was up to the Iraqi citizens to decide who they want to see as their leader.
Hmm, I think Mr. Perry has been watching to much state controlled Middle Eastern media. Does anyone really believe that Saddam should stay in power? It would seem so by reading some of these comments, but then I realize that it's just another excuse to bash the 'big, bad, bullying USA. I'm pretty sure that people in Iraq can't wait to see Saddam go, and will be perfectly happy with us (The US and UK) ushering him out.
Of course! If the UK is such a loyal ally of the US as Israel is it should, or is the UK an ally in speech but not in deed?
Going after Iraq is not going to be easy. In fact I think it will do more harm than good. We all know Iraq's leader is not well liked. To topple the leadership could provoke more reaction than its worth.
I live in the USA, in a port city. I am concerned that one day someone will sail into one of our ports and detonate a nuclear device before even touching US soil. It's time to take direct action against regimes that support terrorism.
The British government has had substantial influence in world affaires over last few hundred years, we should carry on this great tradition. I want a world where my children can grow up and live without fear.
Absolutely not! If the British people do not see the threat of Saddam and his research efforts, then their troops (magnificent though they are) will not have the backing of the public, and that British timidity will push us to leave before the job is done. The British will only dilute the mission and cause further chaos in the future. We don't need you and don't want you. Just hold our coats while we do the work.
Tim Renfro, USA
And why should we determine the government Iraq should have? It's quite presumptuous of us to force our style democracy onto other countries.
Or maybe not since our governing style is oh so perfect.
Situation in Iraq does not call for Operation Desert Storm II. Yes, Saddam Hussein and his cronies have to go, but that can be successfully achieved only through special operations conducted by CIA and MI6.Take out Saddam, leave in peace his wretched country.
Several comments in this page replay the media cassette about 'weapons of mass destruction' (excluding the US ones), about 'defending freedom' (forgetting that of Palestinians), about 'enforcing UN resolutions' (ignoring the ones unfavourable to Israel), about sending troops to remove the leadership of another country (a very democratic intension and process), and other stuff like that. I wonder, are we witnessing an epidemic of hypocrisy?
Hail to our policies that stink of double standards. We want to attack Iraq for its possession of weapons of mass destruction but reward Israel with the most sophisticated of arms, weapons and missile tanks annually when they do not make their own. Both use them to carry out atrocities against their own populations: Iraq against the Kurds and Israelis against the Palestinians. Why strikes and sanctions against one and green lights for another? Bush and Blair do not give any damn for Iraqi or Kuwaiti lives any more than they do for Palestinian lives. They both know that might is right and nobody should gain advantage over their current military might.
Mr Blair has described those opposed to action against Iraq as "naive"? I think the UK public as a whole have been naive in voting him in again. At the same time, Downing Street has stressed that military strikes are "not imminent". Well of course not, the poodle wags his tail when the master speaks!
Nigel Perry, Saudi Arabia
This is an action against the regime of Saddam, not against the Iraqi people. Take him and his evil regime out and give the country over to a more moderate style of government before we all regret it.
For weeks Blair says nothing. Only after he speaks with Bush does he make a statement. Blair has lost all integrity as a leader. Neither Britain nor the Iraqi people have anything to gain from Bush's self-interested war-mongering.
If the United States is there in Iraq then the United Kingdom should be with them. We need to stand together in defending freedom as we promised after September 11. Prime Minister Blair seems to understand this!
Let's get our own house in order first and sort out Ireland...
No! All action previous has been illegal under UN law. Would either the UK or the US allow UN weapons inspectors to check their weapons capabilities anywhere, anytime? Will the US allow the UN in to check its biological weapons factories? No. Why should Iraq? I voted for a British Labour government, not an American lapdog.
The threat to our security presented by Saddam Hussein has to be removed. If that means military action, then so be it. However, given that our armed forces are already severely overstretched, our involvement in any such action is likely to be extremely small.
A loony Middle Eastern state, possibly in possession of weapons of mass destruction,
waging war on its neighbours? Irarael.
Daniel, the biggest teeth in the world are useless if they were involved in tearing up innocent flesh, and have huge gaps between them. Why not try using the brain instead?
Bilal Patel, London, UK
Well if the US & UK don't, who will take up the fight against outdated rulers and terrorists? I just wish we in the UK had more of a back bone. You didn't hear the nation moaning about WW2, we should be behind our troops. If Saddam is left alone he will eventually get hold of long range ballistic missiles capable of hitting us. It's a dog eat dog world and it is about time we showed them all who has the biggest teeth!
To Anonymous, UK: Britain is the second largest arms exporter in the world. It should also be noted that Britain has supplied the resources to make nuclear energy to over a dozen different countries effectively giving them the ingredients to construct their own nuclear weaponry. Additionally Britain and the USA supplied Iraq with all this material, which they now claim, is a justifiable reason to go in and bomb the place again in order to get rid of it. In reality control over Iraq would bring the USA and Britain great financial gains. What a sad world we live in!
To Anonymous, UK: no one should do anything because it is just easier to forget that there is a world with other people in it.
If Blair is going to attack Iraq, then I would also expect him to send our troops to battle China for its atrocious human rights record, Israel for its history of oppression and occupation, and also various countries in Africa, and also to attack the USA for distributing weapons of mass destruction and not allowing foreign weapon inspectors in.
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