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Author Topic: Why is Britain so supportive of war against Iraq?
prowsej
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posted 05 February 2003 10:50 PM      Profile for prowsej   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
With all of the problems that Labour is having in the domestic realm, the last thing that Tony Blair needs is to be advocating an unpopular war. Yet, he's taken on the cause and hasn't looked back. Why is he doing this from the perspective of wanting to be re-elected?

It's been politically beneficial to have a close working relationship with Bush because that has deflected criticism from the right. However, having a close relationship doesn't mean that Blair has to become such a vociferous advocate for the attack.

Why is he advocating a policy that isn't winning him either friends or votes at home?


From: Ottawa ON | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Can-Am
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posted 05 February 2003 10:57 PM      Profile for Can-Am     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Being on the winning side in a war has always increased the popularity of politicians. Hitler was enormously popular among Germans in the early stages of the war--mostly because he racked up win after win. Blair knows they'll win. He knows there is at least some chance a fledgling democratic Iraqi state could emerge from the ashes. In a best-case scenario Blair's stance could look brilliant in hindsight.

Don't forget that Winston Churchill was universally condemned by the appeasement crowd (a large majority of the public--and virtually the entire chattering class) in the 1930's. It was only after the Allied victory over Hitler that he gained the rep of one of the UK's all-time great statesmen.

Blair is taking a perfectly sensible gamble from a political perspective, if not a humanitarian one.

[ 05 February 2003: Message edited by: Can-Am ]


From: Canada | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Jimmy Brogan
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posted 05 February 2003 11:15 PM      Profile for Jimmy Brogan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Being on the winning side in WW 2 didn't do Churchill any good politically.

quote:
5 July 1945:

The 1945 election marked a watershed in British history. The successful Conservative wartime leader, Sir Winston Churchill, was defeated by Clement Attlee's Labour Party.
Attlee's landslide victory ushered in the welfare state and the National Health Service. The commanding heights of the British economy were nationalised. India was granted independence.

Attlee's government changed the face of British society, creating a new social consensus that was to remain largely unchanged until 1979.



From: The right choice - Iggy Thumbscrews for Liberal leader | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Can-Am
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posted 05 February 2003 11:20 PM      Profile for Can-Am     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It's true he lost that election. But he occupies a far more rarefied position in the pantheon of British--and world--leaders than does Clement Atlee. Churchill couldn't get the time of day before the war. Now he's one of those guys that gets quoted everywhere.

When he lost to Atlee his wife told him that it might be a "blessing in disguise". Winston Churchill is said to have replied that it was "very well disguised".

[ 05 February 2003: Message edited by: Can-Am ]


From: Canada | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 05 February 2003 11:31 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Being on the winning side in WW 2 didn't do Churchill any good politically.

Ha! Great story from Mavis Gallant, in an introduction she wrote for a book called "The War Brides":

quote:
Canadian ambivalence to Britain was never more marked than just then [summer 1945], as the tide of sentimentality began to ebb, leaving elderly Anglo-Canadians stranded on prewar memories, unable to place English girls who did not seem English enough, and who brought with them a disconcerting glimpse of a socialist future. It was impossible for some Canadians to understand why Churchill had lost the first election after the war. In a discussion that took place in my presence, a new bride said, "Naturally I voted Labour. What has Churchill to do with the working class?" If she had been foul-mouthed her husband's parents could not have been more upset and horrified. The idea that they had a daughter-in-law who was going to say such things in Canada was more than they could live with. The mother-in-law asked me not to write what her son's bride had said about Churchill. "You can see how we'd feel," she said. "After all, we own our own home."

Well, that's a digression. But the British voters intuited that Churchill would be a disaster as a peacetime leader -- as indeed he proved, when he got re-elected in the 50s. He was good for one thing only, then his day came.

Blair could learn from this, though I doubt he will. Certainly Blair has no more to do with the working class than did Churchill, though of course the working class isn't what it was in 1945. Anyway Blair's more likely to be tossed by his own party, should the dissidents ever get their act together, than by the electorate.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Can-Am
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posted 05 February 2003 11:34 PM      Profile for Can-Am     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Anyway Blair's more likely to be tossed by his own party

I'm surprised he hasn't been lynched by them already. What is the mechanism for dumping a leader in the UK? Do they have votes of non-confidence? Something like impeachment?


From: Canada | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
josh
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posted 06 February 2003 07:49 AM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
My biggest disappointment has been the reaction of the Labour Party. They have been defanged the way the Democratic Party was defanged by Clinton. I think they could caucus and vote non-confidence, but I don't think there are any impeachment mechanism.

As for Blair, as I've said before, he has a job waiting for him with the Carlyle Group.


From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
prowsej
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posted 06 February 2003 12:12 PM      Profile for prowsej   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Can-Am, thanks for the insightful response. My conception of political philosophy has always included the Kantian idea that people are naturally averse to war. I suppose this isn't true since democracies are no less likely to go to war than other forms of government and now because of this idea that politicians who lead successful wars gain in popularity (and, often, the wars are popular themselves).
From: Ottawa ON | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Whazzup?
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posted 06 February 2003 12:19 PM      Profile for Whazzup?     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Why is he advocating a policy that isn't winning him either friends or votes at home?

Can we get back to the original -- excellent --question? Can-Am suggests that it might be a political calculation. That's possible, I suppose, but I doubt that it will win him much popularity even if the invasion is "successful." The Falklands war was popular from the get-go -- this one certainly isn't.

So..... why? Personal gain? (That's what josh seems to be implying with his remark about the Carlyle Group) That strikes me as highly implausible. (Is this argument commonly made in the UK?)

Is it possible that he thinks (gasp!) that ... it's the right thing to do, and damn the domestic political consequences?

Any other explanations?


From: Under the Rubble | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
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posted 06 February 2003 12:39 PM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I'm surprised he hasn't been lynched by them already. What is the mechanism for dumping a leader in the UK? Do they have votes of non-confidence? Something like impeachment?

same as when thatcher got knifed over the poll tax ... if the cabinet can see that the PM's policies are so dreadfully unpopular that, gasp, they may not be re-elected next time, someone will step forward, and yes, there can be a vote of confidence in the Commons ... or like under Thatcher, they could have a leadership challenge,

BBC from March 2002:

quote:
A leadership ballot can only be held if 20% of MPs support a challenge, according to rules governing the procedure of a Labour leadership contest. This would lead to a vote by the party's electoral college of MPs, unions and activists.

in addition to the Iraq situation, there is a vast well of untapped distrust at the way that public-private partnerships and private finance initiatives are being used for public service renewal .... the latest project to go awry are streetcars in South London,

plus the US enthusiasm for the "son of star wars" missile defence project,

that all being said,

i think that blair feels he's right on iraq and the country/his caucus is wrong,

and that he's willing to pay the price if it goes rather badly.

BUT,

he's facing a 500 000 strong demonstration on the 15th in hyde park in london,

the metropolitan police in london are training undercover officers with dogs to pose as homeless people, so that the dogs can better spot suicide bombers in leicester square,

over 1000 britons trained in al-qaeda camps and not very damn many are accounted for,

so, if a terrorist event follows any invasion of iraq, and the public mood is "if we hadn't gone along with americans, this wouldn't have happened,"

blair gets it.


From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
satana
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posted 06 February 2003 01:16 PM      Profile for satana     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
over 1000 britons trained in al-qaeda camps and not very damn many are accounted for
what does al-qa'ida have to do with iraq?

From: far away | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
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posted 06 February 2003 01:59 PM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
to clarify, i'm not saying, at all, that there are any links between al-Qaeda and Iraq, but, that due to Blair's foreign policy involvement and activism on behalf of the "war on terror", he runs the risk of taking the direct blame for any attack (from whatever terror group), i.e. he helped bring it upon Britain.
From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 09 February 2003 01:06 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Moving this to the Middle East forum.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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