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Iraq; Warning to wobblers
The Sun
Thursday April 15, 2004

PRESIDENT Bush said in his Press conference that the consequences of
failure in Iraq are unthinkable. He is right.

Much of the news from Iraq -attacks on civilians, on coalition soldiers
and the murder and mutilation of foreign aid workers -is heartbreaking.

But behind the headlines Iraq is not all disaster.

When I was there last month every Iraqi I met said they were glad that
the US, Britain and their allies had overthrown Saddam.

They do not want to be occupied indefinitely and they worry about
security.

But following our sacrifices they now feel they have a future. Under the
tyranny of Saddam they did not.

What the United States, Britain and their allies are doing in Iraq is
revolutionary and very difficult. And it is essential.

We are helping 23million people who have suffered under an appalling
dictatorship for decades to create a decent society.

The knock-on effects in the whole Middle East could be stupendous. A
democratic Iraq would have an electrifying effect on an area mired in
dictatorship and despair.

With all its oil, the Middle East should be one of the most successful
regions of the world. In fact it is one of the most wretched.

The combined economic output of the 22 Arab League countries is less
than that of Spain. Forty per cent of adult Arabs -65million people -are
illiterate, including two out of three women. Why? Largely because of
dictatorship and fundamentalism.

Blair and Bush are right to insist that the outcome in Iraq is of huge
importance to us all.

Success in Iraq means the creation of a decent, modern society which,
for the first time, responds to its people's needs.

Under the guidance of the allies, Iraq's Governing Council -to which
power will be handed over on June 30 -has adopted the most liberal
constitution in the Middle East.

Naturally there is furious resistance to such progress -from the
remnants of the Saddam regime and from fundamentalists who want to trap
people forever in a medieval time warp.

They have everything to lose if America and Britain succeed. No wonder
they are fighting so desperately.

Tragically, some of our notional allies, like France and Germany, have
also tried to undermine Iraq's liberation and progress. If they had
united with us behind UN demands that Saddam come clean on his weapons
over a year ago, war might have been avoided.

Now all too often they seem to rejoice in the problems that have
developed.

Mistakes have certainly been made since the brilliant military campaign
to overthrow Saddam a year ago.

We have not created jobs fast enough. Security is patchy -though most
places are far better than Fallujah, the centre of current awful
battles.

Electrical power has increased, but not enough to meet the demand from
all the new air conditioners and other consumer goods that people have
been able to buy since the fall of Saddam.

America's 18-billion dollar reconstruction aid should be kicked in at
once to give more jobs and more hope.

One young woman said to me in Baghdad last month: "The end of Saddam was
like a dream."

Those resisting US and British efforts in Iraq want to turn it into a
nightmare.

As Bush and Blair say, they must not succeed.

Iraq will only be a disaster if we fail.

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