(Bishop) Tutu condemns (UK) PM over Iraq

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Posted by andreas from dtm2-t9-1.mcbone.net ( on Saturday, January 04, 2003 at 6:20PM :


Tutu condemns PM over Iraq

By Jo Dillon, Deputy Political Editor
05 January 2003

The Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu today added his voice to the growing numbers of church leaders, trade unionists, politicians and members of the public in condemning Tony Blair's support for America's stance on Iraq.

The archbishop said Mr Blair's support for the Bush administration, which yesterday put its troops on a war footing, was "mind-boggling". He said he was saddened to see the US being "aided and abetted" by Britain. "I have a great deal of time for your Prime Minister, but I'm shocked to see a powerful country use its power frequently, unilaterally," he said.

Asking why Iraq had been singled out and urging diplomacy, he told LWT's Jonathan Dimbleby programme: "When does compassion, when does morality, when does caring come in? I just hope that one day people will realise that peace is a far better path to follow."

The high-profile clergyman's intervention came as another English bishop called on the Prime Minister and the US President to abandon their military ambitions in Iraq.

Writing for The Independent on Sunday, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Rev Peter Price, accused the Americans of seeking "world domination", of seeking to use Iraq as a "land-based aircraft carrier for wider control of the region and beyond" and giving the lie to its so-called motives for tackling Iraq by opting to pursue a diplomatic line against North Korea. He also questioned whether war in Iraq would "remove or heighten" the real global terrorist threat.

Meanwhile, Britain prepared to announce the deployment of thousands of troops in the Gulf to join the build-up of American forces ready to launch military strikes against Iraq. It is understood that 20,000 regular troops and 7,000 reservists will be sent out.

Despite this, however, the Government is at pains to stress that war "is not inevitable". Downing Street is keen to play down reports that a progress report from the United Nations' chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, due on 27 January, will be used as a trigger for war.

Reports, sourced to a senior cabinet minister, that the odds had shifted to 60-40 against action, compared to 60-40 in favour before Christmas, were not confirmed. Downing Street sources said "nothing has changed" since then.

Opponents of war, however, were were concerned by President Bush's rallying cry to US troops in Texas last week, in which he said a war in Iraq would be "not to conquer but to liberate".

Labour MP Alan Simpson, a member of Labour Against the War, warned that military action could split the Labour Party. "There are a number of us that would see this as the point in which he [Mr Blair] has to be challenged."

The Prime Minister will be further embarrassed today when the leader of the GMB trade union, John Edmonds, blames him for "talking Britain into a recession" by issuing stark terror warnings.

Mr Edmonds said: "If we allow the country to be talked into recession it will not only have a serious impact on the economy but we will also be doing the terrorists' work for them."

-- andreas
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