London, Nov. 19 (Reuters): US President George W. Bush chided his critics in Europe today and said the UN risked extinction unless it showed the sort of Anglo-American backbone that toppled Saddam Hussein.
During a high-profile state visit to Britain rich in pageantry and protest, Bush used a keynote speech to justify his divisive Iraq policy and his staunch alliance with Prime Minister Tony Blair. In an apparent nod to Blair — who has long urged him to push for West Asia peace alongside war in Iraq — Bush warned Israel not to undermine peace efforts with a security barrier it is building in Palestinian territory, or settlement expansion.
He also told powers in continental Europe they had a responsibility to help ensure global security, despite their opposition to the US-British war and the occupation of Iraq.
“Because European countries now resolve differences through negotiation and consensus, there’s sometimes an assumption that the entire world functions in the same way,” Bush said.
“Beyond Europe’s borders, in a world where oppression and violence are very real, liberation is still a moral goal and freedom and security still need defenders.”
Hundreds of protesters turned out in a foretaste of a planned march tomorrow, as police mounted a security operation unprecedented in Britain that aimed to protect Bush from terror attacks as well as maintain order on the streets.
Demonstrators dyed fountains red in Trafalgar Square, near the palace and Blair’s Downing Street residence, to symbolise the blood spilt in Iraq.
But Bush shrugged off public opposition to the conflict by Britons, most of whom opposed the war. “In some cases the measured use of force is all that protects us from a chaotic world ruled by force,” he said.
The President also said he believed in the UN, which he bypassed to launch war, but that its viability depended on a willingness to keep its word and act.
“America and Great Britain have done, and will do, all in their power to prevent the UN from solemnly choosing its own irrelevance and inviting the fate of the League of Nations,” he said. “It is not enough to meet the dangers of the world with resolutions; we must meet those dangers with resolve.”
He singled out France, which led international opposition to the Iraq war, for criticism. He said Paris had ridiculed former president Woodrow Wilson’s post-World War One vision of global security, which had helped inspire the failed League of Nations. “Sounds familiar,” he mocked.
Bush also urged European countries to withdraw support from “any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays his cause” — a veiled reference to President Yasser Arafat — and to reject anti-Semitism as a “poison” to peace efforts.
Police were out in force in the evening to ensure activists did not breach a cordon in front of the palace, where Bush and his wife were to spend their second of three nights. Airline worker Dawn Totten, 50, said she had flown from her home in the US to join the scattered protests.
“I came all the way from San Francisco because demonstrations go unrecognised and unreported there,” she said. Her message for Bush' “I’d like to tell him to stay here.”