Sunday, April 23, 2006

Tony Blair on the Effect 9/11 Had on Him

Con Coughlin interviewed Tony Blair on the political effect that 9/11 had on him.
I never had a moment's doubt about this. Because 9/11 for me was, 'Right, now I get it. I absolutely get it.' This has been building for a long time. It is like looking at a picture and knowing it was important to understand it, but not quite being able to make out all its contours. And suddenly a light was switched on and you saw the whole picture. It was a defining moment. We stood shoulder to shoulder with America because my belief then, and my belief now, is that America was attacked not because it was America - but because it was the repository of the values of the Western world, and it was the main power embodying them. It was an attack on all of us. And I don't mean that in a sentimental way."

... the fact of the matter is - what was September 11? It was an attack on America as the most powerful country in the Western world. And I have no doubt at all that any of us are vulnerable to this kind of attack. I meant what I said when I said it was an attack on all of us. And if it was an attack on all of us, it was in our own interests to stand up. I haven't done this because I believe it is in America's interests. I am not elected in America, I am elected in Britain. I've done it because I believe it to be in Britain's interests. Now I know that is fiercely disputed by my critics, and there it is. But this war against terrorism is happening now, and it affects all of us. And we should stand together to fight it."

And his opinion on the evolution of the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq:
My view of this has probably evolved since September 11. My view is that the origins of these security problems - with their mixture of secular dictatorships, religious fanaticism, failed nation states, governed, in every sense, by oligarchies - are the Middle East. This is a struggle that will only be won when, across the whole of the Middle East, there is a place for greater democracy, human rights, religious toleration and so on…"

That makes you sound like a neocon, you know that?

"Yeah, but I think spreading democracy and human rights is very progressive. I can't quite get this idea it is supposed to be neocon."

The neocons, I pointed out, originally came from the Democrat wing of American politics.

"I just go with my instinct. But I keep saying to people: one of the greatest failures of progressive politics in my lifetime has been that, in the anti-American parts of the progressive Left, we have ended up on the wrong side with someone as evil as Saddam. Even now, when we have been there with a UN resolution, we are on the wrong side of the battle between terrorism and democracy. I can't understand how progressive people can be on the wrong side of that argument.

... [T]he one thing I know for sure is, we are never going to get anywhere by showing weakness. You can see this in respect of Iran now, where I think it is very important that the world gives a strong signal.
I couldn't disagree more with the effect of certain parts of Blair's domestic agenda, which I think has been disastrous for Britain. The method for dealing with crime throughout the UK has come to be reprehensible.

But on 9/11 and Iraq, I think he is magnificent.


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