Jewish World Review March 6, 2002/ 22 Adar, 5762

Wesley Pruden

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A little testosterone for Old Blighty | THERE'S a fortunate little pocket of testosterone left in Old Blighty yet.

Tony Blair, accompanying Queen Elizabeth II on a tour of Australia, signed up with a flourish of manly courage to join George W. Bush's expedition to clean Saddam Hussein's plow.

"This is something we've got to deal with," he told a Queensland television interviewer, and this time there won't be any dithering.

Echoing Ari Fleischer, without excluding himself from the scolding, the British prime minister cited "dithering" as enabling Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to escape punishment after they killed 231 persons with bombs at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. This allowed bin Laden and al Qaeda "to prosper and plot the September 11 attacks."

This time, presumably, there won't be a rebuke from the White House for stating the impolitic obvious, that Bill Clinton dithered while his pants rested at ease around his ankles, although Condoleezza Rice, the president's No. 1 tough guy, took diplomatic pains yesterday to say that "the president has made no decision about the use of force against Iraq." But as part of the one step forward, two steps to the side strategy of waiting while European allies take time to recover from the attack of "the vapors," as diagnosed last month by Secretary of State Colin Powell, Miss Rice made sure no one lost the point of the exercise: "[Saddam´s] a threat to his neighbors, to the world, to his own people."

Mr. Blair said he would come to Washington just after Easter to confer with George W. over "the second stage" of the war on terror, and Britons traveling with the prime minister said his remarkably strong language seemed designed to tell Saddam Hussein that patience in London and Washington is just about exhausted. If he doesn't allow United Nations weapons inspectors into Iraq to resume the work so rudely interrupted three years ago, consequences have to be faced.

"Iraq is in breach of all conditions of weapons inspectors," Mr. Blair told his interviewer Down Under. "We know they are trying to accumulate weapons of mass destruction. We know Saddam has used them against his own people. How we deal with this is a matter we must discuss, and find the best way to deal with it."

As if that were not enough red meat for Englishmen, Mr. Blair had a warning for a second villain of George W.'s axis of evil. "North Korea is spending billions on developing weapons of mass destruction and nuclear capability while some of its people are starving.

"For 10 years Afghanistan was like this but we did not do anything. There would not have been the consent to do anything. Even when they killed those people in the embassy in Dar es Salaam and there was terror around the world there was not the sense of urgency that we had to deal with it - but it may have been better to have had the foresight to deal with it then.

"This is not something that just America is talking about. This is something we have got to deal with. If chemical, biological or nuclear capability fell into the wrong hands and if we did not act, we might find out too late the potential for destruction."

Upon what meat, one of Old Blighty's better scribblers might ask, doth our mighty Caesar feed? His resolve is all the more remarkable because he will pay a price at home for it. His Labor Party backbenchers, who imagine that the government's job is to bottle and burp their constituents until the very instant everything blows up, have warned him that they have no appetite for military action against Iraq. One senior Labor member denounced Mr. Blair's "warmongering propensities" and is expected to turn up the volume in a House of Commons debate on Mr. Blair's return to London later this week. Tony Blair's steadfast support of the American campaign to rid the world of terrorists who seek to blow up the world is all the more remarkable because frightened and complacent Europeans desperately want only to stop the world and get off.

Some of the vapors that enveloped the continent as the shock of September 11 wore off have drifted across some of the leftmost precincts of the sceptr'd isle, particularly the precincts made of ether and newsprint, whose patron saint is Alfred E. Neumann of Mad magazine: "What? Me worry?"

One pundit, writing in the Manchester Guardian, the bloodless tribune of the weak and the whining, mocks Mr. Blair's warning that Saddam, with his arsenal of chemicals, bombs and bugs, is a clear and present danger with "weapons that threaten the world." A man who wants to discipline the ravenous appetites of the welfare state clearly can't be trusted on the smaller matter of survival. The testosterone arrived just in time.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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