In the face of all opposition US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair continue to lobby and cajole international political players into accepting the rightness of their cause.
It wasn't just the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein who was gambling his political career by risking a confrontation with the United States, whose president said his patience was "running out." As we were going to print, several western leaders--some for war, some against--were also gambling their political career on the same issue. British Prime Minister Tony Blair confessed, on the eve of a tense summit with French President Jacques Chirac that he was risking his political career by backing America.
At a House of Commons briefing in February, following talks with US President George W. Bush three days earlier, Mr Blair said he was risking everything" to back an action to disarm the Iraqi dictator by force if necessary.
It followed a majority of Blair's Labour party members--including members of his selected Cabinet--rejecting any war with Iraq without a second Security Council resolution authorising the use of force. Despite opposition from European and other NATO member states, both Mr Blair and President Bush, maintained that UNSC Resolution 1441, passed last year, authorises the use of force by any member state, or group of member-states, as it was passed under Article 7. Nevertheless, in the face of massive opposition in Britain--over three quarters of the British electorate--and in Europe as well as in the Middle East, Mr Blair tried some exhaustive diplomatic manoeuvres to soften the wave of opposition to military action.
Not only ridiculed by the majority of press cartoons in Britain and Europe, Mr Blair was even subjected to a personal attack from Nelson Mandela, the best loved and most respected political leader in contemporary world history. Mr Mandela warned the two leaders that their move to launch a war against Iraq without UN authorisation was an affront to international law, ill advised, foolish, and, Mr Mandela added, would ultimately lead to disaster.
Mr Blair held talks with the US President in the White House following talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a few hours earlier. Signor Aznar, with leaders of some lesser European nations, published an article in The Times on 30 January, backing America's tough stand on Iraq and advising Europe that it must stand in the same trench with America.
Although the article pleased the hawks in the Bush administration, including...