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[infowar.de] auch Blaib macht sich Sorgen um öffentliche Kriegs-Unterstützung
(von Georg Schöfbänker)
October 31, 2001
Blair Campaigns For War Support
Wavering Britons Urged to 'Never Forget'
By T.R. Reid, Washington Post Foreign Service
LONDON, Oct. 30 -- Facing some erosion of popular support for the
bombing of Afghanistan, an emotional Prime Minister Tony Blair told
British citizens today that they must "never forget" the mass
killings on Sept. 11 and warned that "the terrorists will kill again
A weakening in the will to fight would amount to victory for the
killers, Blair said. "They have one hope -- that we are somehow
decadent, that we lack the moral fiber or will or courage to take
them on; that we might begin, but we won't finish; that we will
start then falter; that when the first setbacks occur, that we will
lose our nerve. And they are wrong."
Parliamentary debate and a new public-opinion survey suggest that
concerns about the killing of Afghan civilians have undermined
British support for the allied war against the Taliban authorities
and the al Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden. Britain is the
United States' closest ally in the fight. It has fired missiles at
targets in Afghanistan, provided refueling for U.S. jet fighters and
pledged 600 commandos to conduct ground operations.
A poll by the research firm ICM and published in today's Guardian
newspaper showed that approval of the military action has fallen
from 74 percent to 62 percent of the British public since the
bombing started. Twenty percent of those surveyed expressed
disapproval, and 18 percent said they were unsure.
The Guardian poll also asked whether respondents would favor a pause
in the bombing "to allow aid convoys to go into Afghanistan." Those
surveyed responded favorably by a margin of 54 to 29 percent, with
the rest undecided. U.S. and British military leaders have rejected
this suggestion on the grounds that a pause would allow the Taliban
to build up its defenses.
There has also been growing opposition to the military campaign
among some members of Blair's Labor Party. "Tony has a problem,"
said Peter Kilfoyle, a Labor member of Parliament who has backed
Blair on the war. "Almost everybody agrees with the ends, but people
are worried about the means. Every time they hit a civilian target,
it cuts into his support."
Blair's government has also run into public disagreements between
the cabinet and the military. After the defense secretary, Geoffrey
Hoon, indicated that British marines would soon be "smoking out" the
enemy in Afghan caves, a marine general quickly responded that his
troops were not ready yet.
In a long-scheduled address in Cardiff to the legislature of Wales,
the prime minister hit hard on the "evil" that was done by the
attackers on Sept. 11, the reason for the current military campaign.
In a step to bolster the war on terrorism, he left afterward for
talks in Syria, becoming the first British prime minister to visit
that country in more than 30 years.
"It is important we never forget why we are doing it," Blair said in
Cardiff. "Important we never forget how we felt watching the planes
fly into the twin towers. Never forget those answering machine
messages. Never forget how we felt imagining how mothers told
children they were about to die.
"If we do not act against al Qaeda and the Taliban, al Qaeda will
have perpetrated this atrocity, the Taliban will have sheltered them
and we will have done nothing. We will have done nothing despite the
fact, also inescapable, that they intend to commit more atrocities."
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