Blair likens Saddam to Hitler
LONDON, England -- Comparing Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler, British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he would be pushing for Iraq's disarmament "irrespective of the position of America."
"If the Americans were not doing this, I would be pressuring them to do so," Blair told The Guardian newspaper in Britain just days after 121 Labour backbenchers rebelled against his stance in a parliamentary vote.
"It's worse than you think. I believe in it. I am truly committed to dealing with this, irrespective of the position of America," he said.
Many have accused Blair of behaving like U.S. President George W. Bush's lapdog.
But Blair rejected suggestions that he had been dragged into confrontation with Iraq by Bush, insisting that he had raised concerns about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction at his first meeting with the U.S. president, before the September 11 terror attacks.
Britain, Spain and the United States are co-sponsoring a new U.N. resolution that could trigger war against Iraq. France, Russia, China are pushing to give U.N. weapons inspections more time.
While saying he respected the sincerity of those opposing him, Blair said many people had sought to appease fascism in the 1930s for the sake of avoiding war.
"A majority of decent and well-meaning people said there was no need to confront Hitler and that those who did were war-mongers," he said.
"When people decided not to confront fascism, they were doing the popular thing, they were doing it for good reasons and they were good people... but they made the wrong decision."
He had been warned by the same people not to intervene in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Sierra Leone, but he said history had proved him right.
On Friday, Blair told a meeting of the Wales Labour Party that removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would rid the world "of one of the most revolting regimes in history." (Full story)
Blair acknowledged the strength of opposition to war among many members of his own Labour Party and the political difficulties it created for him. (Full story)
But he warned that anti-war protests in Britain sent a "mixed message" to Baghdad, encouraging Saddam to believe that the West was not serious about dealing with him.
"I am sufficiently well-versed in politics now to realize the strength of the opposition and the difficulties it can put me in. I am not oblivious to that.
"In the end, people have to vote how they feel. But my job is to say how I feel... why I believe that what we are doing is right and why I believe that to what the opponents of my position want us to do would be very, very dangerous for our country and the world."