TONY BLAIR has seriously weakened national security through the Iraq war, a senior MP claimed last night, as a survey found that a significant proportion of young Welsh people would not fight for their country.
Mistrust and a sense of betrayal regarding the current international climate has resulted in a fifth of Welsh young adults saying in a poll they would not fight for their country "under any circumstances".
And yesterday Falklands hero Simon Weston said he understood their reluctance.
The much vaunted war against terror has in fact made the world a more dangerous place, where young people will struggle to believe politicians in the future over an actual threat, warned Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price last night.
He said, "I think the Prime Minister has undermined the intelligence services, ruined the reputation of the UK in the world and undermined the public's trust in the Government and the integrity of politics.
"Put that all together then yes, this war has weakened 'national security' for the long term and made things more difficult.
"It has made the world more dangerous and weakened the ability of the Government to consolidate the real threats and not the distorted ones that are out there."
His barbed comments against the Government's handling of the Iraq situation come as The Times releases a poll today which says a fifth of Welsh 18 to 30-year-olds would refuse to fight under any circumstances.
Nearly three in five (59%) said they would only fight if "they agreed with the reasons for the conflict".
As the international world becomes more unsettled and UK troops are still out in Iraq, the figures could come as a shock.
However, it seems the days of the white feather being handed out, and the belief that it is "sweet and fitting to die for your country" are gone, as a more cynical generation refuses to be "duped" into political wars, said Mr Price, who is attempting to impeach Mr Blair over the Iraq war.
He added, "Young people are rightly cynical about what they are told by the Government.
"Why should they be [cannon] fodder? Why should they put their lives on the line?
"Somebody has got to get off this escalation of violence.
"The only legitimate use for war is self defence, and what is worrying from the poll is that young people would possibly not want to fight on that basis.
"This Government more than any other has given war a bad name. It should have a bad name and be used only as a last resort.
"They have used war as a tool in their political armoury and these changing attitudes are ultimately a response to the cynical way Bush and Blair have used war as a political tool."
Last night experts were in no doubt that this current viewpoint has been nurtured by the war in Iraq, and the Government's unwillingness to listen to public opinion - including anti-war protests.
Despite fighting in the Falklands war, Simon Weston congratulated the young people for their anti-fighting stance.
He said, "To be honest with you, I think it's wonderful that we have got such intelligent and well-thought-out people who would not fight carte blanche for a reason that they do not believe in."
In his opinion, the current situation with the war on Iraq has informed much of the opinion of people in the 18-30 age bracket.
For a generation which has been able to hear first-hand accounts from two world wars, lived through the Falklands and the first Gulf War, Mr Weston believes it is only the recent war that has made the impact.
"In my 43 years, this is the only war that the British public have turned their back on.
"I knew about Vietnam and I still joined up, they had no problems recruiting after the Falklands and after the first Gulf War people were joining in their droves.
"I do not think it is the horrors of war or the legitimate conflict that they find unpalatable."
Criticising the treatment and the lack of respect from officials and the people who send soldiers to war, Mr Weston added, "It is no wonder people are not willing to fight for their country. Let's be realistic, they are not going to be conned and kidded. Those days are gone.
"Perhaps that is the price the Government is paying for making sure everyone is educated."
While Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant says that a recent survey of his area found that the most popular career choice was the armed forces, he thinks the reaction is natural.
"In the old days, and even when I was young, we were worried about Russia and the threat of the Cold War. It was very clear who the enemy was. Now it is very unclear," said Mr Bryant, 42.
"That makes for a very uncertain period. But it is good for people to question.
"I am rather encouraged that the world has moved on, and hope that we would not need conscription."
But Welsh poet and playwright Patrick Jones is not convinced that the world has moved on, and believes that young people are angry about the current war.
"It seems that all over the world every day there is something else," he said. "I gather that people are still quite sad and quite angered by the situation."