Skip to comments.Blair damned either way
Posted on 09/24/2004 2:25:14 AM PDT by familyop
AS British civil engineer Kenneth Bigley sat blindfolded and begging for his life at a terrorist compound somewhere in Iraq on Monday, his Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was celebrating the launch of a high-speed tilting train service in central London.
Standing on a platform at Euston station, smiling for the cameras beside Virgin boss Richard Branson, Mr Blair showed no outward sign of the dilemma that surely simmered inside him.
Faced with perhaps the most difficult moral decision imaginable for a politician, Mr Blair is aware he is the only man on Earth who can save Mr Bigley's life.
Painfully, he is also aware he will not do it.
In order to secure Mr Bigley's release, the Prime Minister would need to bow to the terrorists' demands to free two female Iraqi prisoners being held by the US.
Despite personally telephoning Mr Bigley's family in Liverpool, vowing to do all in his power to save him, Mr Blair's position on negotiating with terrorists is clear and unwavering.
If the words of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw are anything to go by, there will be no 11th-hour change of heart.
"We continue to do everything we can to secure Kenneth Bigley's safe release," Mr Straw said.
"But, it would be idle to pretend that there is a great deal of hope."
In a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario for Mr Blair, the fate of Mr Bigley is sure to polarise Britain.
With his popularity plummeting since the invasion of Iraq, the Prime Minister's dilemma was made no easier yesterday when a videotaped plea from Mr Bigley was released on to the internet by his captors - believed to be the Tawhid and Jihad Group of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Clad in an orange prison-style jumpsuit and positioned in front of a large black and white banner featuring Arabic writing, the 62-year-old directed his emotional plea squarely at Mr Blair.
Sobbing through parts of his statement, Mr Bigley implored the Prime Minister to acquiesce to his captors' demands by releasing the female prisoners.
"I think this is possibly my last chance to speak to somebody who will listen," Mr Bigley said.
"I need you to be compassionate as you always said you were and help me to live so I can see my wife and son and brothers again.
"I need you to help me now, Mr Blair, because you are the only person on God's earth that I can speak to."
Mr Bigley's family has appealed to Mr Blair to intervene before the father-of-one suffers the same fate as the two American civilians who were captured with him and beheaded this week.
Mr Bigley's brother Philip also lashed out at the Prime Minister for participating in his train station photo opportunity.
"Mr Blair was posing with Richard Branson over a train that cuts 14 minutes off a journey to London," he said.
"He should have been devoting that time to saving Ken's life."
There is little doubt the pleas of Mr Bigley's family will ultimately go unanswered.
Unlike the situation involving the Philippines in July - when the government of that country withdrew its troops from Iraq to spare the life of truck driver Angelo de la Cruz - Mr Blair has devoted himself to the "big picture" and the notion of sacrificing a few to save many.
"I don't think there's any room for him to budge, there's no way he can give in to them and maintain his relationship with Bush and the US," The Daily Telegraph's terrorism expert, Aldo Borgu of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said.
"There's no doubt this is going to put a huge amount of pressure on him politically, but he just can't afford to give in, that's the bottom line.
"All moral considerations aside, and I'm sure it's eating away at him that his political position would get worse because it would be considered a weakness to negotiate.
"A country like the Philippines can get away with it.
"A country like the US or Australia could not."
The notion that John Howard, or indeed Mark Latham, could be faced with the same dilemma confronting Mr Blair is a very real one, Mr Borgu said.
For that very reason, tough talk about never negotiating with terrorists is a dicey business.
Notice how the liberals and the media treat America's coalition partners as if they are Bush's slaves and don't have minds of their own, principles of their own or values of their own.
Yes. Some of the other reports that focus on Bigley's brother are even worse. Out of mourning and agony (and probably the 30 year misinformation campaign about the USA in Britain) for Bigley, his brother is accusing the USA of "sabatoging" Bigley's release, since Allawi said that the Iraqi government will not release the Iraqi women prisoners. One other more overtly socialist publication grabbed that story right up.
"I don't think there's any room for him (Blair) to budge, there's no way he can give in to them and not encourage more hostage taking which would eventually cause the deaths of many many others," said Barney Gumble, FreeRepublic's terrorism realist.
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