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#10 - JRL 7269
The Times (UK)
July 28, 2003
Linking Chechnya to Iraq was wrong
From Professor Peter Reddaway

Sir, The Prime Minister’s moral slipperiness over Iraq now has a Chechen component. On June 18 he referred categorically to “the fact” that Chechens had been fighting for Saddam (Hansard, June 18, col 355). When challenged later by Crispin Blunt, MP, to prove this charge or withdraw it, he agreed that his source was no more than what Blunt had called “unsubstantiated reports” (Hansard, July 9, col 1156). Mr Blair then added: “I accept that it may be some time before we can be sure that those reports are correct.” But he does not have the decency to withdraw his charge until such time as this might occur. Nor does he note that the freely elected President Maskhadov of Chechnya gave strong official support to the US-UK decision to invade Iraq.

Mr Blair cast further slurs on the brave and tenacious people of Chechnya. First he referred without qualification to “several reports about Chechen fighters being found in Afghanistan”, although these reports have long remained unsubstantiated. No fighters have ever been identified. And Guantanamo Bay holds nine Britons, but zero Chechens.

Secondly, he referred to “appalling terrorist atrocities” committed by Chechens in Russia, but omitted to note that these would never have occurred if they had not been provoked, with medieval brutality, by the prior atrocities of the Russian military.

Putin must chuckle every time he contemplates his achievement. Does Mr Blair really want to be remembered as a chum of this man and an enemy of the nation he is destroying?

Yours faithfully,

(Visiting professor),
Government Department,
London School of Economics and Political Science,
Houghton Street, WC2A 2AE.
July 27.

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