Thursday, 16 January 2003

Direct action may become a necessity

by Seumas Milne

If anyone could sell George Bush's planned war of aggression against Iraq, surely it should be Tony Blair, a politician whose career has been built on his ability to smoothtalk his way out of a crisis. He has been straining every nerve to do just that for the past week. The latest sales drive began with the prime minister's attempt to link the alleged ricin find above a north London chemist's shop with "weapons of mass destruction". And it culminated on Monday with his imaginative effort to construct a link between "rogue states" such as Iraq and Islamist terrorism.

But all the signs are that his spin offensive simply isn't working. Such tales may find more of an echo in the United States, where half the population believes Saddam Hussein was responsible for the September 11 attacks, according to some polls. But in Britain - and even more so in the rest of the world - most people are now convinced that the opposite is the case: that the best way to boost support for al-Qaida and Islamist attacks on western targets is precisely to launch an Anglo-American crusade to invade and occupy Arab, Muslim Iraq.

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