The threat to Britain
today is not that of my father's generation. War between the big
powers is unlikely. Europe is at peace. The Cold War already a
But this new world faces a new threat: of disorder and chaos born
either of brutal states like Iraq, armed with weapons of mass
destruction; or of extreme terrorist groups. Both hate our way of
life, our freedom, our democracy.
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.
Some say if we act, we become a target. The truth is, all nations
are targets. Bali was never in the front line of action against
terrorism. America didn't attack Al Qaida. They attacked America.
Britain has never been a nation to hide at the back. But even if we
were, it wouldn't avail us.
Should terrorists obtain these weapons now being manufactured and
traded round the world, the carnage they could inflict to our
economies, our security, to world peace, would be beyond our most
My judgment, as Prime Minister, is that this threat is real, growing
and of an entirely different nature to any conventional threat to
our security that Britain has faced before.
For 12 years, the world tried to disarm Saddam; after his wars in
which hundreds of thousands died. UN weapons inspectors say vast
amounts of chemical and biological poisons, such as anthrax, VX
nerve agent, and mustard gas remain unaccounted for in 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.
It is true Saddam is not the only threat. But it is true also - as
we British know - that the best way to deal with future threats
peacefully, is to deal with present threats with resolve.
Removing Saddam will be a blessing to the Iraqi people. Four million
Iraqis are in exile. 60% of the population dependent on food aid.
Thousands of children die every year through malnutrition and
disease. Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes or
I hope the Iraqi people hear this message. We are with you. Our
enemy is not you, but your barbarous rulers.
Our commitment to the post-Saddam humanitarian effort will be total.
We shall help Iraq move towards democracy. And put the money from
Iraqi oil in a UN trust fund so that it benefits Iraq and no-one
Neither should Iraq be our only concern. President Bush and I have
committed ourselves to peace in the Middle East based on a secure
state of Israel and a viable Palestinian state. We will strive to
see it done.
But these challenges and others that confront us - poverty, the
environment, the ravages of disease - require a world of order and
stability. Dictators like Saddam, terrorist groups like Al Qaida
threaten the very existence of such a world.
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.
The War with Iraq speech
by Prime Minister Tony Blair