Blair: Surrender terrorists or surrender power
The following is the text of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's address at a Labor Party conference in Brighton, England.
BLAIR: Thank you to you and to all the cabinet indeed, being such a support and strength of this time. I am very proud of the work that you do for our country, and I know this party is very proud of the work that you do.
... In retrospect, the millennium marked a moment in time, but it was the events of the 11th of September that marked a turning point in history, where we confront the dangers of the future and assess the choices facing humankind.
It was a tragedy, an act of evil. And from this nation goes our deepest sympathy and prayers for the victims and our profound solidarity for the American people.
We were with you at the first, we will stay with you to the last.
Just two weeks ago in New York, after the church service, I met some of the families of the British victims. And it was in many ways a very British occasion: tea and biscuits, rainy outside and around the edge of the room, strangers making small talk, trying to be normal people in a very abnormal situation.
And as you crossed the room, you felt the longing and the sadness, hands that were clutching photos of sons and daughters, wives and husbands imploring you to believe that when they said there was still an outside chance of their loved ones being found alive, it could be true, when in truth, you knew that all hope was gone.
And then a middle-aged mother looks you in the eyes and tells you that her only son has died and asks you, "Why?"
And I tell you, you do not feel like the most powerful man in the country at times like that because there is no answer. There is no justification for the pain of those people. Her son did nothing wrong.
The woman, seven months pregnant, whose child will never know its father, did nothing wrong. And they don't want revenge. They want something better in memory of their loved ones.
And I believe that their memorial can and should be greater than simply the punishment of the guilty. It is that, out of the shadow of this evil, should emerge lasting good.
Destruction of the machinery of terrorism, wherever it is found, hope amongst all nations of a new beginning, where we seek to resolve differences in a calm and ordered way, greater understanding between nations and between faiths and, above all, justice and prosperity for the poor and dispossessed, so that people everywhere can see the chance of a better future through the hard work and creative power of the free citizen, not the violence and savagery of the fanatic.
I know that people here in Britain are anxious, even a little frightened. I understand that. People know we must act, but they worry what might follow. They worry about the economy and the talk of recession, and of course, there are dangers. It is a new situation.
Of the fundamentals of the U.S., the British, the European economies are strong. Every reasonable measure of internal security is being undertaken.
Our way of life is a great deal stronger and will last a great deal longer than the actions of fanatics, small in number, are now facing a unified world against them. People should have confidence. This is a battle with only one outcome: our victory, not theirs.
What happened on the 11th of September was without parallel in the bloody history of terrorism.
Within a few hours, up to 7,000 people were annihilated, the commercial center of New York was reduced to rubble and, in Washington and Pennsylvania, further death and horror on an unimaginable scale. And let no one say, this was a blow for Islam, when the blood of innocent Muslims was shed along with those of the Christian, Jewish and other faiths around the world.
We know those responsible. In Afghanistan are scores of training camps for the export of terror. Chief amongst the sponsors and organizers Osama bin Laden. He is supported, shielded, and given suckle (ph) by the Taliban regime.
Two days before the 11th of September attacks, Masood, the leader of the opposition Northern Alliance was assassinated by two suicide bombers. Both were linked to bin Laden. Some may call that coincidence. I call it payment, payment in the currency these people deal in: blood.
Be in doubt at all, bin Laden and his people organized this atrocity. The Taliban aid and abet him. He will not desist from further acts of terror. They will not stop helping him. Whatever the dangers of the action we take, the dangers of inaction are far, far greater.
Look, for a moment, at the Taliban regime. It is undemocratic. That goes without saying. There's no sport allowed or television or photography, no art or culture is permitted. All other faiths, all other interpretations of Islam are ruthlessly suppressed. Those who practice their faith are imprisoned. Women are treated in a way almost too revolting to be credible.
First, driven out of university, girls not allowed to go to school, no legal rights, unable to go out of doors without a man. Those that disobey are stoned. There is now no contact permitted with Western agencies, even those delivering food. The people live in abject poverty. It is a regime founded on fear and funded by the drugs trade. The biggest drugs horde in the world is in Afghanistan, controlled by the Taliban.
Ninety percent of the heroin on British streets originates in Afghanistan. The arms the Taliban are buying today are paid for with the lives of young British people buying their drugs on British streets. That is another part of their regime we should seek to destroy.
So what do we do? Don't overreact, some say. We aren't. We haven't lashed out. No missiles on the first night, just for effect. Don't kill innocent people. We are not the ones who raged war on the innocent. We seek the guilty.
Look for a diplomatic solution. But there is no diplomacy with bin Laden or the Taliban regime. State an ultimatum and get their response. We stated the ultimatum. They haven't responded. Understand the causes of terror. Yes, we should try. But let there be no moral ambiguity about this: Nothing could ever justify the events of September 11, and it is to turn justice on its head to pretend it could.
The action that we take will be proportionate, targeted. We will do all we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties, but understand what we are dealing with.
Listen to the calls of those passengers on the planes. Think of the children on them told they were going to die. Think of the cruelty beyond our comprehension, as amongst the screams and the anguish of the innocent, those hijackers drove at full throttle planes laden with fuel into buildings where tens of thousands of people work.
They have no moral inhibition on the slaughter of the innocent. If they could have murdered not 7,000 but 70,000, does anyone doubt they would have done so and rejoiced in it?
So there is no compromise possible with such people. There is no meeting of minds, no point of understanding with such terror. Just a choice: defeat it or be defeated by it. And defeat it, we must.
Any action taken will be against the terrorist network of bin Laden. As for the Taliban, they can surrender the terrorists or face the consequences. And again, in any action, the aim will be to eliminate their military hardware, cut off their finances, disrupt their supplies, target their troops, not civilians. We will put a trap around the regime. And I say to the Taliban: Surrender the terrorists or surrender power. That is your choice.
We will take action, too, at every level national and international. In the U.N. the G-8, the European Union, in NATO, in every regional grouping in the world to strike at international terrorism wherever it exists.
For the first time, the U.N. Security Council has imposed mandatory obligations on all U.N. members to cut off terrorists financing and end safe havens for terrorists.
Those that finance terror, those that launder their money, those that cover their tracks are every bit as guilty as the fanatic that commits the final act.
And here in this country and in other nations around the world, laws will be changed, not to deny basic liberties, but to prevent their abuse and protect the most basic liberty of all, freedom from terror.
New extradition laws will be introduced. New rules to ensure asylum is not a front for terrorist entry; this country is proud of its tradition in giving asylum to those fleeing tyranny -- we will always do so -- but we have duty to protect the system from abuse. It must be overhauled radically, so that from now on those who abide by the rules, get help, and those that don't, can no longer play the system to gain unfair advantage over others.
Around the world, the 11th of September is bringing government and people to reflect, consider and change. And in this process, amidst all the talk of war and action, there is another dimension appearing. There is a coming together; the power of community is asserting itself. We are realizing how fragile are our frontiers in the face of the world's new challenges.
Today, conflicts rarely stay within national boundaries. Today, a tremor in one financial market is repeated in the markets of the world. Today, confidence is global, it's presence or its absence. Today, the threat is chaos, because for people with work to do and family life to balance and mortgages to pay and careers to further pensions to provide, the yearning is for order and stability. And if it doesn't exist elsewhere, it's unlikely to exist here.
I have long believed that this interdependence defines the new world we live in.
You know, people say, "Well, we're only acting because it's the USA that was attacked." "Double standards," they say. But when Milosevic embarked on the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Kosovo, we acted. And the skeptics said it was pointless, that we made matters worse, we made Milosevic stronger and look what happened. We won. The refugees went home. The policies of ethnic cleansing were reversed. And one of the great dictators of the last century will finally see justice in this century.
And I tell you that if Rwanda happened as democratically elected government and people, and we, as a country, should -- and I, as a prime minister, do -- give thanks for the brilliance, dedication and shear professionalism of the British Armed Forces.
We can't do it all, neither can the Americans. But, you know, the power of the international community could, together, if it choose to. It could, with our help, sort out the blight that is the continuing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where 3 million people have died through war or famine in the last decade. A partnership for Africa between the developed and the developing world based around a new African initiative, it's there to be done if we find the will.
On our side: provide more aid untied to trade, write off debt, help with good governance and infrastructure, training to the soldiers with U.N. blessing and conflict resolution, encouraging investment and access to our markets so that we practice the free trade we're so fond of preaching.
But it is a partnership. On the African side: true democracy, no more excuses for dictatorship, abuses of human rights, no tolerance of bad governments from the endemic corruption of some states, to the activities of Mr. Mugabe's henchmen in Zimbabwe... proper commercial, legal and financial systems, the will, with our help, to broker agreements for peace and provide troops to police them. The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world. But if the world, as a community, focused on it, we could heal it. And if we don't, that scar will become deeper and angrier still.
We could defeat climate change, if we chose to. Kyoto is right. We will implement it and call upon all other nations to do so.
But it's only a start. With imagination, we could use or find the technologies that create energy without destroying our planet, we could provide work and trade without deforestation. If human kind was able, finally, to make industrial progress without the factory conditions of the 19th century, surely, we have the wit and will to develop economically without despoiling the very environment we depend upon.
And if we wanted to, we could breath new life into the Middle East peace process, and we must.
The state of Israel must be given recognition by all; fear from terror, know that it is accepted as a part of the future of the Middle East not its very existence under threat.
And the Palestinians must have justice, the chance to prosper and in their own land as equal partners with Israel...
We know that it is the only way. Just as we know that, in our own peace process in Northern Ireland, there will be no unification of Ireland except by consent. And there will be no return to the days of Unionist or Protestant Supremacy because those days have no place in the modern world.
So the Unionists must accept justice and equality, the Nationalists. The Republicans must show that they have given up violence, not just a cease-fire, but weapons put beyond use. And not only the Republicans, but those people who call themselves Loyalists, who do by acts of terrorism sully the very name of the United Kingdom.
We know this also: The values we believe in should shine through what we do in Afghanistan. To the Afghan people, we make this commitment: The conflict will not be the end. We will not walk away as the outside world has done so many times before that. If the Taliban regime changes, we will work with you to make sure its successor is one that is broadbased, that unites all ethnic groups and that offers some way out of the miserable poverty that is your present existence.
And more than ever before, with every bit as much thought and planning, we will assemble a humanitarian coalition alongside the military coalition so that, inside and outside Afghanistan, the refugees -- 4.5 million in the move even before September 11 -- are given shelter, food and help during the winter months.
The world community must show as much its capacity for compassion as for force.
The critics will say, "But how can the world be a community, nations act in their own self-interest." Of course, they do, but what is the lesson of the financial markets, climate change, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation or world trade? It is that our self- interest and our mutual interest are today inextricably woven together.
This is the politics of globalization. And I realize why people protest against globalization. We watch aspects of it with trepidation, we feel powerless as if we were pushed to and fro by forces far beyond our control. But there is a risk. The political leaders, faced with street demonstrations, pander to the argument rather than answer it. The demonstrators are right to say, "There is injustice, poverty, environmental degradation."
But globalization is a fact, and, by and large, it is driven by people not just in finance, but in communication, in technology, increasingly in culture and recreation, in the world of the Internet, information technology, television. There's going to be globalization. And in trade, frankly, the problem is not there's too much of it. On the contrary, there's too little of it.
The issue is not how to stop globalization; the issue is how we use the power of community to combine globalization with justice. If globalization works only for the benefit of the few, then it will fail and it will deserve to fail.
But if we follow the principles that have served us here so well at home -- that power, wealth and opportunity must be in the hands of the many, not the few -- if we make that our guiding light for the global economy, then it will be a force for good and an international movement we should take pride in leading.
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