Washington has failed to obtain complete and unconditional support for an offensive against Iraq. It has always seemed that the USA was successful at persuading the hesitant, but not this time. Even Great Britain, the US’s oldest and most reliable ally, is seriously hesitant regarding any offensive. At the same time, this does not mean that British Prime Minister Tony Blair shares these doubts. He was one of those who at once supported the idea of a US offensive against Iraq, but the prime minister’s opinion does not mean it is the opinion of the whole country and the whole government.
The Guardian informs that, this week, British military officials plan to persuade Anthony Blair to give up the idea of participating in the US offensive against Iraq. The military men say that the operation is more likely to be a failure and the losses will be great at that. In addition, there is no potential leader to replace Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which means the allies will hardly succeed in the political sphere and only get stuck in a useless operation.
Not only military men are skeptical about an offensive against Iraq. British Foreign Development Minister Clare Short said she would quit her governmental post if the military action is started against Iraq. Even the Labourites are pressing Anthony Blair more and more for a change of opinion about Britain’s participation in the offensive. A petition with the demands has been signed by more than 100 Labourites up to this moment. In addition, London’s support of the US’s plans in Iraq will probably lead to isolation of Great Britain from Europe. At the recent EU summit in Barcelona, European leaders said that no military operation should be carried out if not approved of by the UN.
A new book by Margaret Thatcher has come in handy for the British prime minister. The ex-prime minister, who is famous for her categorical statements, demanded maximum isolation from Europe, as, in her opinion, EU membership “damages the country’s interests and restricts England's freedom of action.” Margaret Thatcher thinks that the EU is a structure that “is not subject to reforming" and the joint market deprives countries of their sovereignty. In addition, Europe was the origin of large-scale global problems, including National-Socialism and Marxism.
The ex-prime minister of Britain is sure that “it is the EU that needs us most of all, not we ourselves.” The Times reports that Margaret Thatcher is not asking for a complete withdrawal from the EU; she just offers to review the terms of Britain’s entry in the EU and suspend some agreements concluded with Brussels to abstain from participation in realization of the EU key initiatives. She thinks that London should have agrarian and foreign policies of its own, different from the European line; Britain is also to carry out independent control over trade and create a state security system of its own.
What will be the reaction of Britain’s conservatives to the book by Margaret Thatcher? It is well known that the conservatives object to Britain’s incorporation into the EU, although their objections are not as strong as those one of the ex-prime minister. Due to the conservatives’ efforts, the euro has not yet been introduced in the United Kingdom.
Political zigzags can be very surprising. We could have hardly imagined that Anthony Blair, who is famous for his support of EU incorporation, would be backed by his political opponents.
As for the attitudes of Great Britain to the offensive against Iraq, the population’s opinion is split. The majority of the population, leading politicians, and even military men are against the offensive. At the same time, the country is still the US’s ally. The majority of British merely do not want British soldiers to risk their lives. One thing has become too evident not only in Great Britain but in Europe as well: the people are tired of wars, even those fought with good objectives. Europeans are more pessimistic about war, although Americans actively support George W.Bush’s plans. It is not clear for how long Washington’s demands will be complied with in Europe. However, it is evident that discontent with the US line is gaining force among the allies.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/03/18/38360.html