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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Head to head: Action on Iraq
Peter Lilley and Alice Mahon
As Tony Blair faces tough questions over his support for possible military action against Iraq, BBC News Online speaks to two MPs with very different views on the prospect of confronting Saddam Hussein.


Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Lilley

Essentially, if there is evidence that Iraq is behaving in a way that is a threat to the peace of the region, the stability of the world and the interests of the UK, then that justifies taking action.

But we should not take action just because the United States tell us to do so.

I suspect that if we see Saddam Hussein being intransigent about having weapons inspectors from the United Nations and failing to meet the UN resolutions, that is the evidence.


Toppling Saddam Hussein could well be a consequence of action against Iraq but it probably should not be the final objective

I am not an expert on the legal position on what authority is needed before the US and UK take any military action but ultimately one cannot be vetoed by Outer Mongolia or whatever.

Toppling Saddam Hussein could well be a consequence of action against Iraq but it probably should not be the final objective.

Need for proof

Instead, any plans should concentrate on dealing with weapons of mass destruction and on whether there is any involvement in terrorism.

In any case, I do not think we should be precipitate about Iraq.

The need for thorough preparation and proof of the need of action goes hand-in-hand, hopefully, with calming down the situation between Palestine and Israel.

Resolving that conflict cannot be a condition of action against Iraq but it would be preferable.


Labour MP Alice Mahon

First of all, why do we want to go to war against Iraq?

That question has to be answered - we have Mr Blair, along with the US, sidelining the United Nations, suggesting that military action is inevitable.

I do not believe it is and I think we are now seeing the majority of voters think the same.


Two people cannot start yet another war in the Middle East on some shaky evidence, if they have it, from inside the CIA.

Where is the evidence of Iraq building up weapons of mass destruction?

Scott Ritter, one of the last weapons inspectors to come out of Iraq in 1998, said Iraq was a broken state.

Iraq has not since the Gulf War attempted to attack another state and every one of Iraq's neighbours, except Israel, does not believe it is a threat.

Mr Blair is the prime minister of the United Kingdom and Mr Bush is president of the United States. They are very important people.

But they do not constitute the international community. We have got the United Nations which does that.

Two people cannot start yet another war in the Middle East on some shaky evidence, if they have it, from inside the CIA.

Anybody watching what is going in the Middle East must be appalled. This is not an equal struggle, the Palestinians' country has been occupied.

I absolutely deplore the loss of life whether it be through the suicide bomber or the helicopter gunship.

But Ariel Sharon has only been given a limp slap across the wrist and a lot of us would be a lot more convinced about US policy in the Middle East if it took a stronger stance against Israel.

See also:

10 Apr 02 | UK Politics
10 Apr 02 | UK Politics
10 Apr 02 | UK Politics

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