Skip to comments.Blair to 'take on' Iraq critics
Posted on 03/21/2006 5:57:29 AM PST by MadIvan
Britain's involvement in the invasion of Iraq is to be defended by the prime minister, in the first of three speeches on foreign policy.
Tony Blair is expected to say extremism in the world needs to be confronted and criticise those who argue otherwise.
He will restate his conviction that the UK faces threats and must prevent terrorism, not merely react to it.
The PM will tell an audience that foreign policy should be "strongly activist" and "justified by values".
The speech comes three years after bombs started falling on Baghdad at the start of the US-led campaign that resulted in the fall and eventual capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Mr Blair means to take on his foreign policy critics with his most strongly worded case for intervention overseas, BBC News diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says.
The prime minister will defend the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will insist they are not distant entanglements but essential to Britain's future security.
His speech comes after the British deputy commander of all the multi-national forces in Iraq, General Sir Rob Fry, rejected claims that Iraq was in a state of civil war.
At the weekend, the former Iraqi interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, claimed his country was in the grip of a civil conflict.
"I'd describe the situation as very difficult and I think we're in the middle of an intractable sectarian conflict but we're certainly not in civil war," said General Fry.
"I think if we were in civil war we'd see conflict with a level of intensity of a sustained nature and of a geographical spread much greater than it is now.
"I also don't think that we'd have the ring held by the major institutions of the state. The government is still intact and so are the armed forces."
Mr Blair is expected to criticise sections of the media he accuses of sitting back and arguing that stability in the world would be promoted by doing nothing.
He will accuse them of "a superficial deal with extremism" and say such behaviour must "be confronted and uprooted".
In another controversial statement, the prime minister will say religious extremism - including Islamist extremism - should be labelled as such.
US President George W Bush, meanwhile, has marked the anniversary of the start of the campaign in Iraq with an upbeat assessment of the country's prospects.
Iraqis in some areas still faced "savage" acts of violence, Mr Bush said, but he insisted that insurgents were being defeated in many places.
"The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision," he said in a speech in Cleveland, Ohio.
Did it ever occur to Cindy Sheehan, that her son Casey might still be alive, if the French and Germans hadn't been shirkers?
I hope he doesn't apologize for anything.
Those who are confused about what a "civil war" is should look to events in the USA 1861-65. Now THAT was a civil war.
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