July 18, 2003

History Will Forgive Us, Says

History Will Forgive Us, Says Blair

That subject header is the banner headline in today's Times (UK). Here's the article.

The tone of the article is quite anti-Blair starting right with the banner headline.

The headline pretty much blares (no pun intended): We were wrong about the WMD; but in the long march of history we will be vindicated because we liberated Iraq by freeing its people from a ruthless tyrant.

Here's the full transcript of Blair's speech.

The crucial grafs:

"The risk is that terrorism and states developing weapons of mass destruction come together. And when people say, "That risk is fanciful," I say we know the Taliban supported Al Qaida. We know Iraq under Saddam gave haven to and supported terrorists. We know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people, who regard it as God's will in the act of suicide to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God's judgment.

Some of these states are desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons. We know that companies and individuals with expertise sell it to the highest bidder, and we know that at least one state, North Korea, lets its people starve while spending billions of dollars on developing nuclear weapons and exporting the technology abroad.

This isn't fantasy, it is 21st-century reality, and it confronts us now.

Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together? Let us say one thing: If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive.

But if our critics are wrong, if we are right, as I believe with every fiber of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership. That is something history will not forgive." [my emphasis].

True, Blair subtly attempts to shift the debate from "where's-the-WMD" to, in his words, asking: "(c)an we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together?"

But that's really the critical question, isn't it? Whether significant WMD is turned up or not--a message has been issued throughout the world because of the decision to unseat Saddam. States that pose a high risk of transferring WMD to terrorists will be brought to task, and if necessary, confronted with their leaders deposed.

Who decides what states pose such a risk, doubters will ask? No, not just Sherrif Bush and his poodle Tony.

The international community per U.N. resolutions like 1441 decides. All the states who voted for that resolution believed that Saddam was in material breach of preexisting agreements related to his weapons programs. But only some states, in the face of more obfuscation from Baghdad, had the courage of their convictions and fully grasped the implications of the post 9/11 global security environment. And so acted.

So Blair wasn't asking to be forgiven by history in his eloquent speech to the U.S. Congress yesterday. He was clearly outlining the critical nature of the threats we face in the 21st Century and the urgency and steadfastness required in effectively combatting these perils. Perils he believes exists with "every fiber of instinct and conviction" he has.

So why does the Times portray the speech as a Blairite mea culpa--a request for forgiveness? You will have to ask them--but they might take a peek at the FT's treatment of the story--which really gets and better highlights the real message Blair was intent on delivering to his U.S. audience.

Posted by Gregory at July 18, 2003 12:19 PM
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