Principles over practicalities.......
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
'On Tuesday night I gave the order for British forces to take part in military action in Iraq. Tonight, British servicemen and women are engaged from air, land and sea. Their mission: to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.'
One quality you admire in a person and respect, is the ability to make a decision, a difficult decision, and then once made, despite criticism, hindsight and public protest, to stand by that decision, to brave the storm. In 2003 Tony Blair was The Prime Minster of the United Kingdom, and therefore the responsibility, was laid squarely at his feet. What some people forget, is that the decision was not his alone, the decision was brought before the UK Parliament and the issue was voted on, it returned a vote count of: 412 - 149 in favour.
'I know this course of action has produced deep divisions of opinion in our country. But I know also the British people will now be united in sending our armed forces our thoughts and prayers. They are the finest in the world and their families and all of Britain can have great pride in them.'
Saddam Hussein was a dictator, a tyrant, a danger to those on the side of justice who would oppose him. By March 2003 he had ignored seventeen United Nation Resolutions, he was an outlaw in the international community, he had previously illegally invaded Kuwait in 1990 and had to be removed from that country by Operation Desert Storm, even after being defeated and being sanctioned by the United Nations, he still appeared on live television and claimed victory.
'My fear, deeply held, based in part on the intelligence that I see, is that these threats come together and deliver catastrophe to our country and world. These tyrannical states do not care for the sanctity of human life. The terrorists delight in destroying it.'
You know many people believe different things about whether nor not Military Intelligence was fabricated, whether or not Attorney General Goldsmith was pressurised to come to his conclusions, whether or not the situation in Kosovo should have been used as a precedent for the actions in 2003, or whether or not, and this is one of your favourite conspiracy theories, oil was the reason for the invasion of Iraq.
'So our choice is clear: back down and leave Saddam hugely strengthened; or proceed to disarm him by force. Retreat might give us a moment of respite but years of repentance at our weakness would I believe follow.'
What most 'Anti War Protesters' are to ignorant to see, to self righteous to take in, is that Tony Blair was willing to follow the principles, of morality and compassion. To look at what he believed, and to take action, to produce such a brilliant and passionate plea, that he brought about a 263 majority vote, the backing of the democratic parliament of the United Kingdom. Then when it all went sideways, when people turned against him, when he became the target of those who would use hindsight as a weapon, he stood by his decision, and that, for you, makes the man worthy of great respect.
'I hope the Iraqi people hear this message. We are with you. Our enemy is not you, but your barbarous rulers.'
You did not serve in Iraq, but you know a lot of people who did, be that in Basra, Baghdad, or other parts of the country. You are only too aware that Service Police Officers died in that country, but Tony Blair, for all his faults, had one of the hardest jobs in the world, he knew the consequences that could ensue and he knew what had to be done. The men and women of the British Armed Forces were ready to do the job they had trained for, and he bravely and morally made the decision to send them to do it, because he had faith in their abilities. Despite the odds against them, the equipment shortages and other obstacles, they did the job and they did it well.
'That is why I have asked our troops to go into action tonight. As so often before, on the courage and determination of British men and women, serving our country, the fate of many nations rests.'