Tony Blair: An Eloquent Ally

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 07, 2006 12:26 PM

I browsed his old speeches today upon the announcement of his impending move from 10 Downing Street. Some greatest hits. I think you can also listen to some of the speeches at the links, if you prefer to hear the accent, and who would blame you?

Oct. 4, 2001:

These acts are without any justification whatever and the full force of the law will be used against those who do them.I pay tribute again to all those in America who have been involved in dealing with the human consequences of the attacks.

The rescue services and medical workers who worked tirelessly and with devotion in the most harrowing conditions imaginable. I pay tribute to our own consular staff in New York and London and the family counsellors and Metropolitan Police officers who have supported relatives of the victims. And, above all, to the relatives themselves.

 Those I met in New York, still uncertain finally of the fate of their loved ones, bore their grief with immense dignity which deserves the admiration of us all.Since 11 September intensive efforts have taken place here and elsewhere to investigate these attacks and determine who is responsible.

Our findings have been shared and co-ordinated with those of our allies, and are clear.They are:

* First, it was Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaida, the terrorist network which he heads, that planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September;

* Second, that Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaida were able to commit these atrocities because of their close alliance with the Taleban regime in Afghanistan which allows them to operate with impunity in pursuing their terrorist activity.

Oct. 30, 2001:

On 11 September, thousands of people were killed in cold blood in the worst terrorist attacks the world has ever seen. That is a fact. Those responsible were the Al Qaida network reared by Usama Bin Laden. That is a fact barely disputed by anyone.

Incidentally, the intelligence evidence, significant when I first drew attention to it on 3 October, is now a flood, confirming guilt.The Taliban regime in Afghanistan protect Al Qaida and help them. That is a fact. Indeed, according to the latest evidence we have, they are virtually a merged organisation. The Taliban regime are cruel, dictatorial and oppressive, causing 4½ million refugees to be on the move before 11 September. That, too is a fact.Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaida have said they consider it their duty to commit further terrorist acts. We gave the Taliban an ultimatum to deliver up Usama Bin Laden. They refused. These are also facts.

They lead to one inescapable conclusion: that if we do not act against Al Qaida and the Taliban, Al Qaida will have perpetrated this atrocity, the Taliban will have sheltered them, and we will have done nothing. We will have done nothing despite the fact, also inescapable, that they intend to commit more atrocities unless we yield to their demands which include the eradication of Israel, the killing of all Jews and the setting up of fundamentalist states in all parts of the Arab and Moslem world.

So: we have a group of people in Afghanistan who are the sworn enemies of everything the civilised world stands for, who have killed once on a vast scale and will kill again unless stopped. They can't be negotiated with. They refuse to yield to justice. And they have one hope: that we are decadent, that we lack the moral fibre or will or courage to take them on; that we might begin but we won't finish; that we will start, then falter; that when the first setbacks occur, we will lose our nerve.

They are wrong. We won't falter.We will not stop until our mission is complete. We will not flinch from doing what is necessary to complete it. We will not fail and we will do it all because we believe in our values of justice, tolerance and respect for all regardless of race, religion or creed just as passionately as they believe in fanatical hatred of Jews, Christians and any Moslems who don't share their perverse view of Islam.

They mistake our desire for a comfortable life, living in peace, benign towards different races and cultures, for decadence. It is not decadence. It is progress and we will fight to maintain it.

April 7, 2002:

The guts and spirit of the people of New York and America in the aftermath of that terrible day were not just admirable, they were awesome. They were the best riposte to the terrorists that humanity could give and you should be very proud of that.

I want you to know too that the British people were with you from the first moment, and we will always be with you at times like those. We are not half hearted friends and we never will be. But the determination must be not just to pursue those responsible and bring them to justice but to learn from September11...

But leaving Iraq to develop WMD, in flagrant breach of no less than nine separate UNSCRs, refusing still to allow weapons inspectors back to do their work properly, is not an option. The regime of Saddam is detestable. Brutal, repressive, political opponents routinely tortured and executed: it is a regime without a qualm in sacrificing the lives of its citizens to preserve itself, or starting wars with neighbouring states and it has used chemical weapons against its own people.

Sept. 10, 2002:

I believe it is right to deal with Saddam through the United Nations. After all, it is the will of the UN he is flouting. He, not me or George Bush, is in breach of UN Resolutions. If the challenge to us is to work with the UN, we will respond to it.

But if we do so, then the challenge to all in the UN is this: the UN must be the way to resolve the threat from Saddam not avoid it.Let it be clear that he must be disarmed. Let it be clear that there can be no more conditions, no more games, no more prevaricating, no more undermining of the UN's authority. And let it be clear that should the will of the UN be ignored, action will follow.

Diplomacy is vital. But when dealing with dictators - and none in the world is worse than Saddam - diplomacy has to be backed by the certain knowledge in the dictator's mind that behind the diplomacy is the possibility of force being used.

Because I say to you in all earnestness: if we do not deal with the threat from this international outlaw and his barbaric regime, it may not erupt and engulf us this month or next; perhaps not even this year or the next. But it will at some point. And I do not want it on my conscience that we knew the threat, saw it coming and did nothing.

April 8, 2003:

For too long the world ignored the plight of the Iraqi people. That was wrong. We know and understand that many of you live in fear of Saddam. We promise that the events of 1991 will not happen again.

We have pledged to remove Saddam. And we will deliver. Once he is gone, we will help Iraq rebuild itself, and become once more a member of the international family of nations.In the spirit of true friendship and goodwill we will do our utmost to help.

Dec. 14, 2003:

The rebirth of Iraq is the death of their attempt to sell the lie that we are fighting Muslims. Muslims were Saddam's victims. Muslims today in Iraq the beneficiaries of his demise. Let's remember all those Iraqis that died under Saddam. The remains of four hundred thousand human beings already found in mass graves.

So this is a time for celebration, but it's also a time to look forward to unify and to reconcile.Our thanks go to the Coalition forces and the intelligence services who brought about Saddam's capture. Once again they have proved their professionalism, their courage and their commitment.

But let us give thanks to to those brave Iraqis who have helped in his capture, who in the new Iraqi Administration, Police and defence forces risk their lives daily for the good of their people. They are the representatives of the new Iraq in action today.

Jan. 28, 2004:

Lord Hutton finds the following:

1. Contrary to the claim by the BBC that intelligence was put in the dossier against the wishes of the intelligence services; the dossier of 24 September was published with the full approval of the JIC, including the intelligence about Saddam's readiness to use some WMD within 45 minutes of an order to do so.
2. That the allegation by the BBC that the Government deliberately inserted this 45 minute claim probably knowing it was wrong was "unfounded".
3. That the allegation by the BBC that the reason for it not being in the original draft of the dossier was because the intelligence agencies didn't believe it to be true, was also "unfounded".
4. That no-one, either in the JIC or Downing Street acted improperly in relation to the dossier.
5. That the BBC claim that it was "sexed up" in the sense of being embellished with intelligence known or believed to be false was also "unfounded".
6. That Mr Gilligan's key allegations repeated by the BBC were never in fact said even by Dr Kelly himself.
7. That there was "no dishonourable or underhand or duplicitous strategy by the Government covertly to leak Dr Kelly's name to the media".
8. That on the contrary it was reasonable for the Government to conclude that there was no practical possibility of keeping his name secret and that the Government behaved properly in relation to naming him.
9. That the suggestion that either I or Sir Kevin Tebbit in our evidence were in conflict with each other or that one of us was lying was "incorrect and not supported by the evidence".
10. And for good measure, he also dismisses the allegations surrounding what I said on a plane to journalists in these terms.

March 4, 2004:

The threat we face is not conventional. It is a challenge of a different nature from anything the world has faced before. It is to the world's security, what globalisation is to the world's economy.It was defined not by Iraq but by September 11th. September 11th did not create the threat Saddam posed. But it altered crucially the balance of risk as to whether to deal with it or simply carry on, however imperfectly, trying to contain it...

September 11th was for me a revelation. What had seemed inchoate came together. The point about September 11th was not its detailed planning; not its devilish execution; not even, simply, that it happened in America, on the streets of New York. All of this made it an astonishing, terrible and wicked tragedy, a barbaric murder of innocent people. But what galvanised me was that it was a declaration of war by religious fanatics who were prepared to wage that war without limit.

They killed 3000. But if they could have killed 30,000 or 300,000 they would have rejoiced in it. The purpose was to cause such hatred between Moslems and the West that a religious jihad became reality; and the world engulfed by it...

Here is the crux. It is possible that even with all of this, nothing would have happened. Possible that Saddam would change his ambitions; possible he would develop the WMD but never use it; possible that the terrorists would never get their hands on WMD, whether from Iraq or elsewhere. We cannot be certain. Perhaps we would have found different ways of reducing it. Perhaps this Islamic terrorism would ebb of its own accord.But do we want to take the risk? That is the judgement. And my judgement then and now is that the risk of this new global terrorism and its interaction with states or organisations or individuals proliferating WMD, is one I simply am not prepared to run...

But we received the intelligence. We immediately heightened the police presence. At the time it was much criticised as political hype or an attempt to frighten the public. Actually at each stage we followed rigidly the advice of the police and Security Service. But sit in my seat. Here is the intelligence. Here is the advice. Do you ignore it? But, of course intelligence is precisely that: intelligence. It is not hard fact. It has its limitations. On each occasion the most careful judgement has to be made taking account of everything we know and the best assessment and advice available. But in making that judgement, would you prefer us to act, even if it turns out to be wrong? Or not to act and hope it's OK? And suppose we don't act and the intelligence turns out to be right, how forgiving will people be?

July 11, 2005:

Mr Speaker, the 7th of July will always be remembered as a day of terrible sadness for our country and for London. Yet it is true that just four days later, London's buses, trains and as much of its underground as is possible, are back on normal schedules; its businesses, shops and schools are open; its millions of people are coming to work with a steely determination that is genuinely remarkable...

Together, we will ensure that though terrorists can kill, they will never destroy the way of life we share and which we value, and which we will defend with the strength of belief and conviction so that it is to us and not to the terrorists, that victory will belong.

Dec. 22, 2005:

And however tough it is, and I know it is difficult from time to time, I hope you also have some sense of how important it is. We have just had the elections here in Iraq, as you know, and over 10 million people came out and voted, and really the important thing is to try and help this country become the democracy its people want it to be, and the only way of doing that is to provide the security so that the Iraqi forces, the police and the Army can be built up, and then of course eventually we can draw down our own capability.

And the importance of this probably is greater today than it has ever been, because if Iraq does stabilise and become a democracy, then the region is more safe, the wider world is more safe, our own country is more safe because international terrorism will be dealt a huge body blow. Basically what the terrorists want to say is that our purpose is to take their country off them, take their oil, take their religion, whereas actually what we want to do is to help this country become a democracy and have its people in charge of running things.

And if we manage to defeat the terrorism here, then we will deal it a big blow worldwide, and every single civilised country in the world faces this terrorist threat today. And so you are right at the front line of it, and I just want to say to you thank you for what you are doing.

March 21, 2006:

This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don't mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd; their concept of governance pre-feudal; their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive; and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran.

But in order to do this, we must reject the thought that somehow we are the authors of our own distress; that if only we altered this decision or that, the extremism would fade away. The only way to win is: to recognise this phenomenon is a global ideology; to see all areas, in which it operates, as linked; and to defeat it by values and ideas set in opposition to those of the terrorists...

This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace and see opportunity in the modern world and those who reject its existence; between optimism and hope on the one hand; and pessimism and fear on the other. And in the era of globalisation where nations depend on each other and where our security is held in common or not at all, the outcome of this clash between extremism and progress is utterly determinative of our future here in Britain.

We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changing around us. Inaction, pushing the responsibility on to America, deluding ourselves that this terrorism is an isolated series of individual incidents rather than a global movement and would go away if only we were more sensitive to its pretensions; this too is a policy. It is just that; it is a policy that is profoundly, fundamentally wrong.And this is why the position of so much opinion on how to defeat this terrorism and on the continuing struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East is, in my judgement, so mistaken.

March 27, 2006:

Every reactionary element is lined up to fight us. They know if they lose, a message is sent out across the Muslim world, that strikes at the heart of their ideology. So they are fighting hard. We must not hesitate in the face of a battle utterly decisive in whether the values we believe in, triumph or fail.

Here are Iraqi and Afghan Muslims saying clearly: democracy is as much our right as yours; and in embracing it, showing that they too want a society in which people of different cultures and faith can live together in peace. This struggle is our struggle.If the going is tough - we tough it out.

This is not a time to walk away. This is a time for the courage to see it through. But though it is where military action has been taken that the battle is most fierce, it will not be won by victory there alone.Wherever people live in fear, with no prospect of advance, we should be on their side; in solidarity with them, whether in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, North Korea; and where countries, and there are many in the Middle East today, are in the process of democratic development, we should extend a helping hand.

May 26, 2006:

Let us go back to the immediate issue: Iraq. We can argue forever about the merits of removing Saddam. Our opponents will say: you made terrorism worse and point to what is happening there. I believe differently. I believe this global terrorism will exploit any situation to further its cause. But I don't believe that its cause is truly to be found in any decision we have taken. I believe it's cause is an ideology, a world-view, derived from religious fanaticism and that had we taken no decisions at all to enrage it, would still have found provocation in our very existence.

They disagree with our way of life, our values and in particular in our tolerance. They hate us but probably they hate those Muslims who believe in tolerance, even more, as apostates betraying the true faith.They have come to Iraq because they see it as the battleground. The battle they are fighting is nothing to do with the liberation of Iraq, but its subjugation to their extremism.

I don't want to reopen past arguments. I want to advocate a new concord to displace the old contention.

It is three years since Saddam fell. It has been three years of strife and bloodshed. But it has also seen something remarkable. Despite it all, despite terror, sectarian violence, kidnapping and the exhibition of every ugly aspect of human nature, a democratic political process has grown. Last week, a new Government was formed. This Monday I visited it in Baghdad, I sat and talked with the leaders, chosen by the people, Sunni, Shia, Kurds, non-aligned, and heard from them not the jarring messages of warring factions but one simple, clear and united discourse. They want Iraq to be democratic. They want its people to be free. They want to tolerate difference and celebrate diversity. They want the rule of law not violence to determine their fate.

They were quite different from the Interim Government of 2004 or the Iraqi Transitional Government after the elections of January 2005.

This is a child of democracy struggling to be born. They and we, the international community, are the midwives.

You may not agree with original decision.

You may believe mistakes have been made.

You may even think how can it be worth the sacrifice.

But surely we must all accept this is a genuine attempt to run the race of liberty.

These are not stooges. Or placemen.

They believe in their country.

They believe in its capacity to be democratic.

They are fighting a struggle against the odds but they are fighting it.

And in their struggle is a symbol of a wider struggle.