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by Agence France Press
Monday, Jul. 14, 2003 at 12:32 PM
Agence France Press- In the name of saving them.
Sunday July 13, 10:48 PM
British PM "seeking support to tackle failed states"
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is pressing centre-left world leaders attending a London conference to acknowledge a responsibility to deal with so-called failing states, according to a document leaked to the press.
The Independent on Sunday newspaper said the document was a way for Blair to justify having helped lead a war on Iraq, in the event Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction are never unearthed.
The newspaper suggested the British document circulated among the 14 heads of state or government attending the London conference on "progressive governance" was in effect an appeal for a new world order.
It would give Western powers the authority to attack any sovereign country whose ruler is judged to be inflicting unnecessary suffering on his own people, the paper said.
The British document reportedly contains the paragraph: "When a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect."
The Independent on Sunday claimed the document has provoked a fierce row between Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who is attending the London conference and who staunchly opposed the Iraq war in the absence of a UN resolution authorising force.
But a Downing Street spokesman denied a row, saying: "At no stage has there been any disagreement between the UK and Germany."
The spokesman added that Blair's office was not offering a "running commentary" on documents relating to the meeting of centre-left leaders, which also included Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva and former US president Bill Clinton.
The new moral doctrine for interventionism could be a way of reflecting mounting criticism on Blair over the Iraq war, critics allege.
The British leader has seen his support among voters plummet in recent weeks as the government was accused of embellishing its case for war, and most recently his former cabinet member Clare Short urged him to step down.
One of Britain's main arguments for war -- the threat posed by Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction -- has been hard hit by the fact that three months past the war none has yet been found.
The BBC in late May reported that a British government dossier on Iraq in September was "sexed up" to help justify military action.
Against the wishes of intelligence chiefs, the government inserted the claim that Saddam could deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes, the BBC claimed.
Hans Blix, who was the UN weapons chief inspector in Iraq in the run-up to war, added to the criticism, telling The Independent on Sunday in an interview that the 45-minute claim was "a fundamental mistake".
It was "highly unlikely that there were any means of delivering biological or chemical weapons within 45 minutes", he said.
"I don't know exactly how they calculated this figure of 45 minutes in the dossier of September last year. That seems pretty far off the mark to me," Blix said.
Asked if Blair had relied on flawed intelligence or misinterpreted it, Blix replied: "They over-interpreted the intelligence they had."
Blix, a former Swedish foreign minister, said that he had talked to the British prime minister several times and that Blair was "strongly convinced" of the existence of weapons of mass destruction.
"In fact, I was the one who was sceptical and critical, and said that I didn't think that the evidence was so strong, and said so to the (UN) Security Council," Blix added.
He did not doubt the competence or sincerity of British and US experts sent to Iraq to look for weapons of mass destruction after Saddam's downfall.
But he said there would be "greater credibility in having international inspectors rather than national ones.... It's more about the perception from the other side".
He did not elaborate, but the "other side" clearly referred to Iraqis, the Arab world and a large section of opinion in the West, according to the The Independent on Sunday.
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