Leading article, Morning Star, 15th April, 2003.
PRIME Minister Tony Blair was totally unconvincing in Parliament yesterday when he alleged that "there are no plans" to invade Syria.
Leading Bush administration politicians have increasingly waged a war of words against Syria, with unsubstantiated claims about the possession of weapons of mass destruction and about the harbouring of Saddam Hussein's officials.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged Washington to tone down its statements about Syria, saying that it was time to "cool down" the tension in the Middle East.
"The region is going through a very difficult process and I think it would be better to make constructive statements," he said.
Labour MP Tony Lloyd asked the Prime Minister to back Mr Solana's plea to Washington to tone down the "loud and strident" noises.
But Mr Blair failed to do so. Once again, he showed that he lacks the political courage to make even the slightest criticism of the extremists who are making the running in Washington.
British silence on the issue will be taken as acquiescence at a time when the hawks are getting increasingly vociferous about further military adventures in the Middle East.
The US oil and weapons manufacturers are increasingly forming an unholy alliance with the Israeli government on policies which would mean further death and destruction in the Middle East.
Israel War Minister Shaul Mofaz made it clear yesterday that "we have a long list of issues that we are thinking of demanding of the Syrians and it is proper that it should be done through the Americans."
He insisted that Syria must also stop allowing the militant Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad to use Damascus as their headquarters.
Mr Mofaz made the intriguing comment that "I think that the Americans will not ignore what Syria has done. That does not necessarily mean they will use force."
He said that the US "as a superpower, has many other options before applying force in order to change the thinking and behaviour of countries in the world."
On Sunday, US President George W Bush repeated warnings to Syria that it must co-operate with Washington and not harbour any of Iraq's leaders who may flee across their common border.
In these circumstances, it is blatant nonsense for Mr Blair to stand up in Parliament and claim that there are no plans for an attack on Syria.
A sign of the weakness of his position was his response to any serious questions about US policy on Syria as being "conspiracy theories."
Given the number of conspiracies which the Bush and Blair administrations are linked with, it is no surprise that there are conspiracy theories around.
If Mr Blair wants to end conspiracy theories, he should stop acting in a way which gives credence to them.
If he is unwilling to do that, then the best thing would be for him to resign as Prime Minister and make way for someone who is committed to the principles of the labour movement and not to the word of command from the man in the White House.