Christian Science Monitor
'This is a moment to seize'
By Tony Blair
On Oct. 2, British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered a major speech on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to the annual Labour Party conference. Here are some excerpts:
They don't want revenge. They want something better in memory of their loved ones. I believe 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….
Our way of life is a great deal stronger and will last a great deal longer than the actions of fanatics, small in number and now facing a unified world against them. People should have confidence. This is a battle with only one outcome: our victory, not theirs….
Be in no doubt: 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….
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 waged war on the innocent. We seek the guilty….
There is no compromise possible with such people, 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. I say to the Taliban: Surrender the terrorists, or surrender power. It's your choice….
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.
If the Taliban regime changes, we will work with you to make sure its successor is one that is broad-based, that unites all ethnic groups, and that offers some way out of the miserable poverty that is your present existence.
And, more than ever now, 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, 4-1/2 million on the move even before 11 September, are given shelter, food, and help during the winter months. The world community must show as much its capacity for compassion as for force….
Justice has no favorites; not amongst nations, peoples, or faiths. When we act to bring to account those that committed the atrocity of 11 September, we do so not out of bloodlust. We do so because it is just. We do not act against Islam. The true followers of Islam are our brothers and sisters in this struggle. Bin Laden is no more obedient to the proper teaching of the Koran than those crusaders of the 12th century who pillaged and murdered, represented the teaching of the Gospel. It is time the West confronted its ignorance of Islam. Jews, Muslims, and Christians are all children of Abraham….
The starving, the wretched, the dispossessed, the ignorant, those living in want and squalor from the deserts of Northern Africa, to the slums of Gaza, to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan: They, too, are our cause. This is a moment to seize. The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder this world around us.