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Profiles of Hans Blix, Tommy Franks, Tony Blair

Aired January 25, 2003 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, with war on the horizon with Iraq, it is his job to try and find peace.

RICHARD GARDNER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: I believe he would like to be the man who disarmed Iraq without war.


ANNOUNCER: Trying to answer questions of whether Saddam Hussein is living up to his promises.


DAVID ALBRIGHT, PRESIDENT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: If he says Iraq is cheating, many countries will listen to that.


ANNOUNCER: U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix. Then, the man who would lead U.S. troops into battle.


WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: He's a man of few words but when he speaks, I think everyone understands.


ANNOUNCER: A Vietnam veteran who served in last Gulf War.


GEN. RON GRIFFITH (RET.), FORMER ARMY VICE CHIEF OF STAFF: I've told a lot of people that I was a better commander in the Gulf War because of lessons that Tommy Franks had taught me.


ANNOUNCER: The private side of General Tommy Franks. Also, he has become a staunch U.S. ally in the conflict with Iraq.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The only chance of peace is the readiness for war.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America has no truer friend than Great Britain.


ANNOUNCER: He came from a middle-class background and had early dreams of being a rock star.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's incredibly enthusiastic. He sat there and did this kind of Mick Jagger impression.


ANNOUNCER: He would become the youngest British prime minister in over a century. Now, his support for the U.S. is costing him at home.


TONY BENN, FORMER LABOR PARLIAMENT MEMBER: If the war begins, then I think Mr. Blair's support will just evaporate.


ANNOUNCER: A look at British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAUL ZAHN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Paula Zahn. The countdown to a war with Iraq could begin on Monday. That's when the U.N.'s chief weapon inspector, Hans Blix, will deliver a report on his team's findings and Baghdad's cooperation. His verdict may well mean the difference between war and peace.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For nearly two months, they've scoured Iraq, teams of United Nations inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction. All reporting to a man who could provide the answer to the question of war, Hans Blix.

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: The world demands and has demanded since after the Gulf War in 1991, a disarmament of all of the weapons of mass destruction and long-distance missiles of Iraq.

GARDNER: I believe he would like to be the man who disarmed Iraq without war. And it may not be possible, but if Hans Blix brings it off it'll be the crowning work of his life.

MANN: Hans Blix has been a diplomat for more than four decades. Barn in Sweden in 1928, he studied at Cambridge and Columbia University, and is trained as a lawyer. For 20 years he was part of the Swedish delegation to the United Nations, then served as director of the International Agency for Atomic Energy from 1981 to 1997. The U.N. organization inspects the nuclear sites of countries that have signed the Global Nonproliferation Treaty.

BLIX: The whole controlled system, verification system of the IAEA was worked out by governments and so, we were mandated to act in a particular manner. Now, that included going to declared installations, not going to undeclared installations.

MANN: One nation that didn't declare all its nuclear activities was Iraq. During 1980s it was secretly developing a weapons program. The international community and Blix's agency didn't discover Iraq's efforts until after the Gulf War, when the country was forced to submit to wide-ranging inspections.

ALBRIGHT: Blix does bear responsibility because they could have been more aggressive, I hate to use the word, but they chose not to be. And Blix is responsible for that.

MANN: Blix did receive high marks for his agency's performance in North Korea.

In 1992, Blix's reported the North Koreans were building a facility capable of reprocessing spent uranium into plutonium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons.

ALBRIGHT: What they are able to show was that North Korea was not telling the whole truth. Everyone started to know something was funny, but it was Blix who really said, "Look, this is unacceptable and we have to confront North Korea about this."

BLIX: That was the beginning. I mean some people accused the IAEA of not finding of things. We were the ones who found it and reported it to the Board of Governors.

MANN: Blix retired in 1997 at the age of 69. But three years later was called upon to lead what would become the current U.N. inspections in Iraq.

GARDNER: He was looking forward to a quiet life with was his lovely wife and family. But he's a patriot. He's a world statesman. He believes in the United Nations and, therefore, he would not say no when he's called to duty.

MANN: Blix was a compromised candidate and had not been the first choice to get the job.

ALBRIGHT: Hans Blix emerged as a candidate because they couldn't find anybody who was acceptable to all of the nations involved in the decision except for Blix.

MANN: Blix began his mission in Iraq in late November as critics questioned whether he would be tough enough to take on an Iraqi government with a history of deception. Blix's initial tone was reserved and respectful.

BLIX: We will be factual. We will be objective. We will report as honestly as we humanly can.

GARDNER: He's tough. Most people don't realize that because he's so calm.

BLIX: And you'll hear the rest of...

GARDNER: He doesn't raise his voice, doesn't shout. But beneath that very diplomatic exterior there's steel. He will not be pushed around.

MANN: The inspections began slowly and Blix was quick to ask the international community for help.

BLIX: We want to have information from member states about any sites where there may be prohibited items and we'll go to them.

ALBRIGHT: The United States has been very slow to turn over any kind of intelligence information that's actionable that inspectors could use to go to a site and say, "Look, here's evidence of a weapon banned of weapons mass destruction program."

MANN: In recent weeks, Blix's inspectors have become more aggressive, visiting undeclared sites and going into the homes of Iraqi scientists. Blix's language has also become more forceful, warning Iraqis that noncompliance with the U.N. resolution could lead to war.

BLIX: Iraq submitted a declaration that was very long but it did not contain much or anything really by way of evidence. And I think that we must realize the seriousness of the situation and provide that.

MANN: Blix is preparing to his initial findings to the U.N. Security Council on Monday. Amid growing questions about how much longer he'll have to do his job. Several nations, including France, Germany, Russia and China, say they favor giving inspectors more time. The United States is pressuring the U.N. to wrap things up quickly.

BUSH: This business about, you know, more time, you know, how much time do we need to see clearly that he's not disarming? As I said, this looks like a re-run of a bad movie and I'm not interested in watching it.

BLIX: If we have the proactive cooperation, if they're really make an effort in all respects, then we should not need very much time. We shouldn't have needed much time in 1991 in the first place. If you do not have that kind of cooperation, well, then it can drag out.

MANN: But whatever Blix says, it's a report certain to be scrutinized as a possible precursor to war.

ALBRIGHT: One thing Blix has done if for the rest of the international community, he's seen as a -- in a ways a judge, a neutral person. And if he says Iraq is cheating, many countries will listen to that.

GARDNER: Every word that Hans Blix utters will be carefully looked over in the White House and in the capitals around the world, particularly in the capitals of those five members of the Security Council that have the veto power. And that will determine peace or war.


ANNOUNCER: When we return, he's the four-star general leading the war on terror.


GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: And we're ready to do whatever the commander-in-chief tells us to do.


ANNOUNCER: The rise of General Tommy Franks when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.


ZAHN: If it comes to military action in Iraq, the man of the moment will be the man who is in charge of the U.S. Central Command, four-star general Tommy Franks. Here's a look at his rise through the ranks.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They travel by land by sea, by air, tens of thousands of American soldiers heading for the Middle East, preparing for a possible war against Iraq.

BUSH: Time is running out on Saddam Hussein. He must disarm. I'm sick and tired of games and deception.

PHILLIPS: The man who would lead them on the battlefield, a 57- year-old veteran of Vietnam and the Gulf War, and the man who took U.S. soldiers to war in Afghanistan, four-star general, Tommy Franks.

FRANKS: I think we said a long time ago that the armed forces of this country, and certainly we're part of that, we're ready to do whatever the commander-in-chief tells us to do.

COHEN: He's a man of few words but when he speaks, I think everyone understands exactly what he's saying and what needs to be done in his judgment.

PHILLIPS: Tommy Ray Franks was born in 1945. He grew up in midland, Texas, the same time as President Bush. He was a football player and went to high school with First Lady Laura Bush, who was two years behind him.

After graduating, Franks went to college at University of Texas at Austin. But after two years, he dropped out, saying he needed to grow up. In 1965, Franks joined the Army. Franks entered the military as the situation in Vietnam was heating up. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1967, and went off to war. In Vietnam, Franks served as an artillery officer and was wounded three times including taking a bullet that traveled the length of his leg about.

FRANKS: I learned the value of trusting people. I learned about the importance of people. I learned about the military chain of command. I learned about sergeants. I learned about what they do. I didn't have a global view then, but I sure learned a lot.

PHILLIPS: In 1969, Franks married his wife, Cathy, a high school history teacher. The couple have a daughter, Jacqueline, and two grandchildren.

FRANKS: My wife reminds me that I told her on the day we were married I was going to get out of the United States military. And I remind her that someday I am going to do that.

PHILLIPS: Following Vietnam, Franks rose through the military ranks serving in locations from Germany to the Pentagon. His reputation, a soldier's soldier, with a quick wit and a Texas drawl and a flare for using four-letter words.

GRIFFITH: Tommy Franks can cut across the full spectrum. He's very comfortable talking to a tank crew or an entry man and he is equally a joint in the most sophisticated circles where you're talking about strategy and operational concepts.

FRANKS: I am honored to ride with you anywhere, anytime. You give meaning to the words George Patton spoke many years ago when he said, "We're simple soldiers. We fight where we're told. We win where we fight."

PHILLIPS: Franks fought in the Gulf War, serving as assistant division commander.

GRIFFITH: I've told a lot of people that I was a better commander in the Gulf War and much more confident in my use of artillery because of lessons that Tommy Franks had taught me when we served together in the first (UNINTELLIGIBLE) division.

PHILLIPS: After several more high-profile commands, Franks was promoted to four-star general in June 2000 and put in charge of U.S. Central command.

COHEN: You look for someone who is battle-tested, battle- hardened, someone who obviously has leadership qualities, who is well respected by the people that he leads. You look for someone who has good judgment with great, strong character. And looking over all of the candidates for Central Command, I look to Tommy Franks.

FRANKS: None of us know what the future holds. But we know there will be challenges and there will be opportunities.

PHILLIPS: A challenge came first. Just four months into his new command, terrorists attacked the USS Cole. It was refueling at a port in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed, 39 wounded. Franks faced Congressional fire over what had gone wrong. SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: I keep return together same questions, speaking for myself, why Yemen? Why Yemen when there are continuing State Department travel warnings in effect for that country?

FRANKS: The decision to use Aidan as a refueling port was based on solid military judgment, and I agree with that judgment.

PHILLIPS: But it was the September 11 terrorist attacks that truly put Franks on the front lines of the war against terrorism.

FRANKS: It is indeed an honor to be a part of a war that is righteous in its goals and has the support of the American people. There's nothing pleasant about a war. But if one has to fight one, I think those are the conditions we'd like to see to be able to do it.

PHILLIPS: Franks was given the task of taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: He has the trust and respect of the president of the United States.

PHILLIPS: At his first press conference, he answered critics who felt the U.S. was moving too slowly in putting in ground troops.

FRANKS: It is only those who believe that all of this should be done in two weeks' time or in one month or perhaps in two months who are disappointed by this.

PHILLIPS: Franks also addressed a perceived lack of availability to the media, especially compared to a general who had previously held his job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With all due respect, sir, what you hear is Tommy Franks is no Norman Schwarzkopf.

FRANKS: I suppose I'd begin sort of at the end by acknowledging that Tommy Franks is no Norman Schwarzkopf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nor vice versa.

FRANKS: Nor vice versa. What I have found up to this point is not a shyness for media. It, very simply, is an insufficient amount of time to be able to do, sir, what you suggested.

PHILLIPS: But the biggest challenge of Franks' career may still be ahead of him -- leading more than 150,000 American troops if the U.S. goes to war against Iraq.

COHEN: Our troops may face chemical or even biological environment. It will in all likelihood involve some urban combat and that might be at a fairly significant level if it comes to it. Again, his job is to make sure the troops are prepared to deal with whatever they have to deal with.

GRIFFITH: I think that the U.S. does not have a better leader for this campaign than we have in general Tommy Franks.



ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Here's Paula Zahn.

ZAHN: Even though he would lead the charge if the U.S. goes to war with Iraq, General Tommy Franks has kept a much lower profile than his commander in the first Gulf War, which leads us to this week's "Where Are They Now?"


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 1990, General Norman Shwarzkopf became a national hero for his role in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. His aggressiveness in the Gulf War earned him the nickname, Stormin' Norman. His military tactics helped achieve victory for the allied forces.

But where is Norman Shwarzkopf now? Now 69, Stormin' Norman has been quite active since retiring from the military. He joined the literary world with his best-selling autobiography, "It Doesn't Take a Hero." In 2000, he actively campaigned for then Governor Bush in his bid for the presidency.

Ever the nature lover, he's a spokesperson for the Be Bear Aware Campaign, which teaches campers safety around wild animals. But he says his greatest honor since retirement is having an elementary school named after him in Lutz, Florida.


ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, he is the international leader who once had trouble with taking directions.


JOHN RENTOUL, BLAIR BIOGRAPHER: He got into trouble with the authorities at school a lot as a rebel.


ANNOUNCER: Growing up with Tony Blair. That's next.



ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. He is America's strongest ally in the showdown with Iraq, Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair. And he continues to echo the Bush administration's staunch demands for Baghdad to disarm or face military action. Mr. Blair's stance is not a popular one in Europe, nor even at home, where public opinion polls suggest British support for a war in Iraq has slumped dramatically in recent months. It's a hard line from a moderate politician who has built his career by sticking to the middle of the road. Here's Jonathan Mann.


MANN (voice-over): As the U.S. prepares for the possibility of war with Iraq the Bush administration has struggled to gain international support from a world wary of being dragged into conflict. Lining up behind the U.S., as President Bush's strongest ally, a somewhat surprising voice, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

BLAIR: Sometimes, and in particular dealing with a dictator, the only chance of peace is a readiness for war.

MANN: Since September 11, the leader of the left-wing Labor Party and soul mate of Bill Clinton has emerged as one of the most vocal supporters of President Bush's war on terror.

BLAIR: This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world. And we, the democracies of the world, must come together to defeat it and eradicate it.

MANN: But Mr. Blair's support for Bush's stance on Iraq has made him the target of criticism from Britons, even entertainers like George Michael in his video for the song, "Shoot The Dog." They worry his tie to President Bush and the U.S. has come a leash.

BENN: Most people in Britain do not understand where a man we elected as prime minister of Britain should be going around as a sort of unpaid ambassador for President Bush.

MANN: As opposition to military intervention grows from the rest of Europe, the British public and from within his own Labor Party, Tony Blair teams prepared to risk everything to preserve Britain's alliance with the U.S.

BLAIR: My vision of Britain is not as the 51st state of anywhere, but I believe in this alliance and I will fight long and hard to maintain it because it's in the interest of this country.

MANN: Ever since he became leader of Britain's pro-union socialist Labor Party and renamed it New Labor, Tony Blair has won votes by appealing to people from across the political spectrum. But could a war with Iraq force the prime minister from the middle road?

Tony Blair was born in Edinburgh Scotland on May 6, 1953. His father, Leo, was an active communist until he joined the army in 1942. But when he became an officer, he turned to conservative politics.

BLAIR: In a sense, they're not really conservatives. They're right wing radicals and they have come to see the state is too powerful and the creation of the sort of great collective institutions of the first part of this century as occasionally becoming overbearing.

MANN: Leo Blair began studying law at Edinburgh University. In 1954, he was offered a position teaching law in Australia. He took his wife, Hazel, their eldest son, Bill and Tony to Adelaide. Three years later, the Blairs moved to Durham, back in northern England. Leo Blair was doing well enough to send the boys to the Chorister School, where Tony excelled academically, skipping a grade.

BLAIR: He had a possibly good average middle class standard of living. I was very lucky in my background; very lucky indeed, that that's something I have cause to be fortunate for because not only did I had a strong family I got a decent education. That's one of the reasons why I think education is so important.

MANN: At the age of 40, Tony's father, Leo Blair, was nearing his dream of landing a conservative parliamentary seat but his career came to a sudden end on July 4, 1964, when he had a stroke. Eleven- year-old Tony was devastated.

BLAIR: One morning I woke to be told that he'd had a stroke in the middle of the night and might not live the day and my whole world then fell apart.

MANN: Leo Blair lost his ability to speak for three years. It was during this period that Tony was sent to Fettes College, an elite boarding school in Scotland. But he didn't like being away from home and rebelled against some of the traditions that were still being upheld in British schools.

RENTOUL: He got into trouble with the authorities at school a lot. That posture of being sort of rebel drove him to the left in politics, I think.

MANN: Tony was not a straight A student, but he did well enough to be accepted as a law student at St. Johns College in Oxford. He decided to take a year off before starting school and move to London where he managed rock bands. This eventually landed him a gig as singer in a group called Ugly Rumors. Band mate, Mark Ellen, remembers Tony's audition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He sat there and did this kind of Mick Jagger impression actually sitting in an armchair, sticking the old chin out, stabbing the finger in the air, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) into a microphone, which was plugged into a record player. And we thought if this guy can dance so well sitting done, he's going to be sensational standing up, so get him in. You know this is our man.

MANN: Oxford was still recovering from the politically charged student revolts that had swept across Europe and U.S. when Blair arrived there in 1927.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, JOURNALIST: When I was there, which was between '67 and 1970, the atmosphere was one of revolutionary ferment and there was a certain amount, as I recall, of sexual intercourse and narcotics in rock 'n' roll as well. By the time Mr. Blair got there, all of that would have been taken for granted in a way.

MANN: But as a student, Blair wasn't active in politics. Instead he chose a spiritual path. RENTOUL: He met this renegade priest, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Thompson, who sort of had these chats about putting the world to rights in his room late into the night. And that sort of got the young Tony Blair going on sort of a crusade to change the world.

BLAIR: The basic motivation, the belief in social justice, the notion that a fair and more decent society helps the individual, to me, that is a Christian as well as a socialist idea or ideal. But I don't -- I don't preach God at people and I don't like politicians that do. And it's something I -- you know, it's a part of me and it's important.

MANN: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Tony Blair decides to pursue a career in politics. And the free-willing rock 'n' roller falls in love.




MANN (voice-over): Tony Blair had just graduated from Oxford in June of 1975, when his mother, Hazel, died of throat cancer at the age of 52. Later that summer, he joined the Labor Party, a party formed by trade unions to fight for workers' rights.

BENN: It's great achievement was at the end of the war, building the welfare state for employment, trading union rights, the welfare state, the greatest achievement of all in actual health sense. Everybody in Britain, rich and poor, has absolutely equal right to a full range of medical treatment. Astonishing achievement.

MANN: Despite its successes the Labor Party has ruled Britain for only about a quarter of the time since its formation in 1900. In the 1970s, even though labor was in power, it was losing its grip.

BLAIR: I joined the Labor Party at a time when there was huge cynicism even within the Labor Party about the Labor Party. But nonetheless, it always seemed to me that its basic principles were correct. It was on the side of those that didn't get the chances in life.

MANN: It was the same year that the conservative Tory Party elected a new leader. Her name was Margaret Thatcher and when she was elected prime minister in 1979, Labor was sent into a tailspin for years to come.

BENN: When Mrs. Thatcher came to power, she made a major attack on the trade union movement. The public services were run down. Health services run down. The funding wasn't there. Taxes were cut, so the wealthy got much better off and the generality of the public suffered a relatively annuitant of their income.

MANN: In the fall of 1975, Tony Blair started preparing for his bar exam. While applying for a scholarship to sponsor his long residency program, he found himself alphabetically sited to another contender named Cherie Booth.

RENTOUL: I don't think she had much time for him to start off with because she thought he was too posh. And she didn't have a lot of time for, you know, white middle-class men who had been to elite universities. But he's got charm.

MANN: Cherie Booth's background was very different. Her father, Tony Booth, was one of the stars of the 1970's BBC series, "Till Death Us Do Part." He walked out on his family when Cherie was a child. Cherie and her father have since reconciled.

RENTOUL: She was abandoned as quite a young child, had a very tough early life but was brilliant at school and became one of the best law students in London. And so she was up against, you know, the chap with the silver spoon in his mouth, the chap with all of the privileges in life.

MANN: Tony and Cherie were married in Oxford on March 29th 1980. Then, in 1983, at the age of 30, Tony became the youngest member of labor in parliament.

PETER MANDELSON, LABOR PARTY: The party was in a state of civil war. We were tearing ourselves apart and heading for many successive electoral disasters. And into that situation, Tony Blair was elected to parliament and started his assent up the political, greasy poll.

MARGARAT THATCHER, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We decided to set up an office for free elections...

MANN: Blair's climb up the greasy poll coincided with a conservative government that lasted 18 years. During this time, Blair held a variety of posts in the opposition or shadow government. In 1992, he was appointed shadow home secretary, the minister in charge of Britain's domestic affairs. Following the example of newly elected U.S. President Bill Clinton, Blair caught attention for being a liberal who was tough on crime. The two Oxford grads soon became close allies.

MANDELSON: I think there are a number of reasons why Clinton and Blair became so close. One was a generational thing, similar ages, similar outlook. They were very much children their age, politicians of this era. Secondly, they were innovators and they were radical spirits within their own party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I, therefore, declare that Tony Blair is elected leader of the Labor Party.

MANN: In 1994, Tony Blair was elected leader of Britain's Labor Party by promising to modernize, another idea borrowed from Bill Clinton. He renamed the party New Labor.

HITCHENS: The oldest trick in the world is to put the word "new." I mean nothing is older than the idea of the new, but the new Democrat and New Labor and people really thought, well, gosh, they have rebranded their parties. MANN: Blair tried to distance himself from many of labor's traditional, socialist symbols. When he replaced the part of labor's Constitution that called for public ownership of industry many felt that the party was being compromised.

BENN: They actually returned to the window to satisfy. Big businesses didn't like it. He said, "Look, I've got myself off of the unions. I'm getting rid of socialism. You can trust me to follow the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) policy." And that's roughly what he's done.

BLAIR: One of the things that has irritated me is this notion of modernizing means taking the Labor Party away from its traditional or working-class support. Rubbish. It's actually about reconnecting it with it. And the Labor Party came into being because it looked at British society and wanted to change it. And if it wants to change British society, it's got to have the courage and guts to change itself.

MANN: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, Blair sets his sights on becoming prime minister and confronts critics from his own party.




BLAIR: Yes, thank you.

MANN (voice-over): On the campaign trail in the spring of 1997, Blair was riding high on the wave of a new generation of young and trendy pop groups, fashion designers and restaurants. The press called it Cool Britannia and Blair's youthful image fit right in.

MANDELSON: We started from the experience of Clinton in '92.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep going, guys.


MANN: In 1996, his campaign manager, Peter Mandelson, visited the U.S. to see what he could learn from the success of the Clinton campaign.

MANDELSON: It gave me a lot of confidence. It gave me a lot of insight. We tailored it to British circumstances and needs. It taught us about modern communications...

BLAIR: There we are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much.

BLAIR: Thank you.

MANDELSON: ... professional ways of running a campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is beginning to sound as though there may be an election.

MANN: A sluggish economy and the repeated discovery of corruption among senior ministers left Tory prime minister, John Major, on shaky ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How very nice to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thanks for coming.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, I thought so.

MANN: Blair took to the offensive.

BLAIR: Isn't it extraordinary that the prime minister of our country can't even urge his party to support his own position? Yes, weak, weak, weak!

MANN: Eighteen years of conservative rule in Britain ended with a whimper on May 1, 1997. Britons looking elsewhere for leadership voted overwhelming in favor of Tony Blair. At 43, he became the youngest prime minister since 1812.

BLAIR: A new dawn has broken, has it not?

MANN: But his platform of low taxes and privatization had many referring to New Labor as Tory like.

BENN: I mean the conservative party is dead because their policies have been adopted by Blair.

MANN: But Blair claimed that they were offering a third way.

MANDALSON: Blair washed all of that away and said, "No, we can be both in favor of, you know, civil liberties and being tough on crime. We can be in favor of social justice and an efficiently, competently run market economy. We can, in other words, replace the politics of all with the politics of and."

MANN: Family values was always something Blair both practiced and preached.

BLAIR: If you don't make the time for your family, then I think your politics actually becomes much less effective. Hello, monsters.

MANN: Tony and Cherie had three children when he became prime minister but moving into 10 Downing Street didn't seem to disrupt his personal life as much as one would expect. On May 20, 2000, Leo Blair was born, making Tony Blair the first British prime minister to have a child in office in more than 150 years.

MANDALSON: I think the key to understanding Tony Blair is this balance that he strikes between politics and being prime minister on the one hand and being a father, a husband, a family man on the other. I mean, I know many politicians who couldn't live with politics, they're addicted to politics. That's not Tony Blair.

MANN: The economic boom that occurred in the U.S. when Blair's friend, Bill Clinton, was in office was also being felt in the U.K. The two leaders collaborated on and influenced each other on many issues, most notably in Kosovo and Northern Ireland where after more than 100 years of bloodshed, a settlement was reached in April of 1998.

MANDALSON: They shared so much. They faced international challenges in the Balkans and elsewhere. Everything conspired to pull them together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's been a lot said about how different you are...

MANN: When George Bush became president in 2001, there seemed to be little common ground between the two leaders.

BUSH: We both use Colgate toothpaste. I don't know if you found any common ground or not.

BLAIR: I think that's enough to be going on with.

MANN: Bush's plan to pull out of the Kyoto Environmental Treaty and withdraw from the Balkans made many doubt the future of the special relationship between the U.S. and Britain.

MANDALSON: When President Bush was elected, and to our mind, he turned his back on many of American's international commitments, we felt that suddenly we had a president -- looking across the pond at somebody in the White House who didn't want to know us anymore. And it was shocking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commander, right there, Liberty.

MANN: But September 11 changed all of that.

BLAIR: Your loss we count as our loss. And your struggle, we take as our struggle.

BUSH: America has no truer friend than Great Britain.


BUSH: Thank you for coming, friend.


MANN: Now, more than a year late, his support for Bush's stance on Iraq is threatening to erode his popularity at home.

BENN: I don't think that on the war Mr. Blair has more than the minority's support. And if the war begins and the consequences are, as many people anticipate, a widening of the battle into Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and so on, then I think Mr. Blair's support will just evaporate.

BLAIR: Let Saddam comply with the will of the U.N. If he doesn't comply, then consider. If at this moment having found the collective will to recognize the danger, we lose our collective will to deal with it, then we will destroy not the authority of America or of Britain, but all of the United Nations itself.

MANN: Blair, now in his second term in office, faces little challenge from the Tories who still haven't recovered from their 1997 defeat. But his critics come from both outside and inside the Labor Party.

BENN: I've defined divided people into the same place. You point the way you should go. And the weathercock who haven't gotten opinions until they studied the polls and discussed it with a focus group and the spin-doctors. And I think Mr. Blair is a -- weathercock trying to pretend he's assigned post, pointing as he says, but actually without any roots of deep conviction to guide him, I think.

MANDALSON: He will always be a breath of fresh air. He would always be -- he would always represent something new and different. He's a fresh, new force that can blow in a different direction in the future.

MANN: Whatever the future holds in the situation with Iraq a force certain to be reckoned with.


ZAHN: Prime Minister Tony Blair travels to Washington at the end of this month to discuss the situation in Iraq. He meets with President Bush at Camp David on January 31.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Next week, two faces of the so-called axis of evil -- North Korea's Kim Jong-Il and Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

And coming up this week on "AMERICAN MORNING," diet guru, Robert Atkins. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us.

ANNOUNCER: For more newsmakers shaping our world, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.


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