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Blair attacks Europe's 'mad anti-Americans'

Written by: Staff
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London, Sept 14: British Prime Minister Tony Blair today launched a withering attack on what he called ''mad anti-Americanism'' among European politicians.

Blair, US President George W Bush's closest ally in the so-called war on terror, said the world urgently needs the United States to help tackle the globe's most pressing problems.

''The danger is if they decide to pull up the drawbridge and disengage. We need them involved,'' Blair said, spelling out his political vision in a pamphlet published by The Foreign Policy Centre think-tank.

''The strain of, frankly, anti-American feeling in parts of European politics is madness when set against the long-term interests of the world we believe in,'' he said.

Blair, accused by critics of being Bush's poodle who slavishly follows Washington's line, sought to stifle a revolt in his ruling Labour Party last week by promising to quit within a year after almost 10 years in office.

His popularity has tumbled in opinion polls after government scandals over sleaze and mismanagement were compounded by controversy over the wars in Iraq and Lebanon.

As he did during the Iraq War, he sided squarely with Washington over the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas, angering Arab nations and European allies by refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire.

Responding to those who have criticised the White House, Blair said in his pamphlet: ''The danger with America today is not that they are too much involved.'' ''We want them engaged. The reality is that none of the problems that press in on us can be resolved or even contemplated without them,'' he added.

Laying out his vision for countering extremists, he said: ''We need to construct an alliance of moderation that paints a future in which Muslim, Jew and Christian, Arab and Western, wealthy and developing nations can make progress in peace and harmony with each other.'' Blair, returning from a trip to West Asia, said the stand-off between Israel and the Palestinians remains ''a, perhaps the, genuine source of anger in the Arab and Muslim world, going far beyond anti-Western feeling.'' ''The issue of even-handedness rankles deeply,'' he acknowledged.

Blair pledged to making West Asia ''an absolute priority for the rest of my time in office.'' But analysts believe his efforts are unlikely to break the logjam there, nor restore his reputation. His trip smacked of an attempt to burnish his reputation as his career draws to a close, they argue.

''He is not as instrumental as he needs to be, or would like to believe he is,'' said Rosemary Hollis, a West Asia expert at British think-tank Chatham House.

REUTERS

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