|So, the assault on Falluja has begun. I have reservations about the war in general, but I loathe the moral equivalence that is often drawn between the US/British troops and the Zarqawi-type terrorists who rule pockets of Iraq. It's not often I agree with Tony Blair, but I found myself shouting "here, here" when I heard the following exchange during Prime Minister's Questions this week (hooray for C-Span):
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax) (Lab): Will the Prime Minister give the House an assurance that when the United States launches its bomb-into-submission policy on Falluja, our Army will not become involved in any way in what are collective punishments that indiscriminately kill innocent civilians?
The Prime Minister: I have to say to my hon. Friend that the situation is simple. There is a Government in Iraq who have been appointed by the UN...what we are saying to people in Falluja...is, "Lay down your weapons, submit to the authority of that UN-appointed Government, participate in the election, and see from the election how much support you have". But what we and the Iraqi Government cannot allow is a situation where outside terrorists and others use Falluja as a base to mount operations and kill innocent civilians and our soldiers... To describe that as collective punishment of Falluja is gross, if I may say so to my hon. Friend. The collective punishment that is being visited on people in Iraq is collective punishment by suicide bombers and people detonating vehicles and trying to stop the democratic process from taking place; our job is to make sure that it does.