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It's interesting to note just how much trouble Iraq is posing for Mr. Blair. Even the BBC, previously cowed and disciplined by the Blair government for presumed bias and shoddy reporting, is smelling blood. The Sunday Herald, The Guardian, and other papers have already said as much, if not worse, and an informal Sunday Herald poll is showing that 83% of its readers believe that Tony Blair led Britain into an illegal war.
This has led prominent Labour Party leaders to write rebuttals to the papers, trying to defend the indefensible.
" I am only too personally aware that there is something deeper about today's disillusion among Guardian readers. . . All I say is that, right or wrong, ministers like me acted in good faith . . . the black-and-white rejection of Labour that Iraq has excited seems to me quite disproportionate when, for example, we have more than doubled the aid budget..."
And I'm sure that's a comfort to the approximately 100,000 Iraqis who have died thus far during an illegal war. Regardless of whether you yourself acted in good faith, your party leader, the Prime Minister, did not. He lied to his people and ignored the warnings he recieved about the legality of the war. And yet you're protecting him, doing your part to deny the public the full truth, rather than demanding that the Prime Minister come clean.
Nobody can deny that true freedom for the Iraqi people would be a good thing -- freedom to vote and say what you like, sure, but also freedom to walk down the street in peace, to go out at night, to shop, to have easy access to the riches of their country -- food, water, and fuel -- and maybe even freedom to run a business and have a better future. Hope.
Hope has yet to return to Iraq. Not when Iraq's wealthiest best, brightest, and wealthiest live just about everywhere else in the world but Iraq. Not when women -- half the population, last time I heard -- are having their freedoms and their hope for good careers systematically taken away. Not when civilians are terrorized by bombs during the day and by the Coalition at night. Not when they're being asked to take sides in a conflict where favoring either side will get you killed. That isn't hope, and that isn't freedom.
The problem for the Labour Party and for its leaders like Peter Hain, is that Tony Blair did a horrible, wrong, illegal thing. Even if you credit Mister Blair with the best of intentions, you must still view his actions as illegal, unethical, and unconscionable as a simple matter of principle.
Many of the British people are principled. That is why they won't vote for Labour until Labour Party representatives stop protecting Blair and put their house in order. Labour's politicians can sense the stench within their own party, but they think that the public's "black and white", principled response is "disproportionate". That, sadly, is because they are not being principled themselves. If they were, they'd replace Blair immediately and insist upon changes to make sure that the British people were never dragged into an illegal war ever again.
The public's "black and white" rejection of Blair isn't about British foriegn policy in Iraq, or whether their soldiers should stay in that country one more year or ten more years. It is about supporting or rejecting the rule of law. It's that simple.
If it's really the intent of the British people to give Blair the power to do whatever he wants regardless of law, then perhaps it's worth suggesting an alternative -- King Anthony I.
With Charles getting married and the queen getting on, I hear there's an opening coming up...