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Blair: We are all at risk

Blair said the international community was
Blair said the international community was "at war with terrorism"  

LONDON, England -- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has told CNN that the international community gives its full backing to the fight "between the civilised world and fanaticism."

Speaking on Sunday, he added: "However difficult it is, and however much we regret the fact that we have to take this action... nonetheless we have to do so.

"This is a time for cool heads and calm nerves and for an absolute and fixed determination to see this thing through.

"And we will see it through. It will be done."

In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's attack in New York and Washington, Blair was among the first international leaders to rally around President George W. Bush.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that laws governing terror-related activies must be considered (September 16)

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British Prime Minister Tony Blair tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that the west is at war with terrorism (September 16)

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UK Prime Minister Tony Blair: "We have to pursue and dismantle this machinery of terror"
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The sense of shock and outrage in the UK has since been heightened by the realisation that many British citizens were among those who perished in the World Trade Center.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Blair said the offer of words of support to the U.S. by the international community in recent days had been the "easy part."

"The hard part," he said, "starts when we actually take the action.

"I think that support will be there not just because of people's sense of horror and outrage at what has happened but also because of their realisation that unless we take action we are all at risk.

"So it is right for reasons of justice but it is also right for reasons of self-protection."

Asked if he believed that a war had been declared, Blair said: "Whatever the technical or legal issues of that declaration of war, the fact is we are at war with terrorism.

"What happened on Tuesday was an attack not just upon the United States but upon the civilised world.

"The thousands of people who lost their lives included nationals of many, many countries.

"Probably two or three hundred people from Britain will have died in that terrorist attack. That makes it, in fact, the worst terrorist attack on British citizens that there has been since the Second World War.

"So this is a situation that concerns us all. Our own interests are intimately engaged quite apart from the fact that in these times it's important that America realises that her friends right around the world stand with her."

Speaking in the Cabinet Room at No 10 Downing Street, he said: "We have to do two things in my view.

"First of all there has to be a response to bring those terrorists who committed this act to account, and we will play our full part in that.

"Secondly, there has then to be an agenda that we can strike at an international level that involves the whole of the international community in dismantling the machinery of international terrorism, how it's financed, how these people move about the world, the countries that then harbour them and give them help.

"That is important not just for the purpose of bringing those people to account but also in order to make sure that this does not happen again."

He added: "We owe it to those people that lost their lives, to their families that are grieving and to our own defence of democracy and liberty and freedom."

On the question of building widespread support for possible military strikes, Blair said: "This is something obviously we discussed with the American president.

"I am very pleased at the way the American administration has gone out of its way to consult its allies, to keep us informed.

"There has to be a response to bring those terrorists who committed this attack to account and we will play our full part in that."

Asked if there was the likelihood of "a cohesive, Gulf-war style" alliance, he said: "I think the whole of the civilized world will stand together…I can assure you, I think, that whole of Europe will stand with America on this.

"People know that what happened was not just aimed at America, it was aimed at all of us. These people believe they can achieve by mass terrorism what they cannot achieve by peaceful, democratic means.

"Therefore, even though it is by our nature to be reasonable, to proceed very cautiously and carefully, we haven't sought this conflict. But when the conflict comes, as we have learnt before from our history, we have to be prepared to face up to it.

"I think, for a long period of time, the world has turned a blind eye and been somewhat indifferent to the menace of international terrorism.

"But what we have got to do now is to realise that it exists, look at its full power and potency, realise that these people, if they could do worse, would do worse.

"And once we understand that then I think that it is important that we not merely pursue those people who have been directly responsible and hold them to account, but then look at the way terrorism operates, how it is financed, where it is and how we pursue it and dismantle it."

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