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Sunday, 25 August, 2002, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
With us or against us?
Graphic: George Robertson (far left) and Colin Powell
The 11 September terror attacks on the United States changed the world forever, creating unlikely alliances and unexpected diplomatic concessions. A new BBC Radio 4 series - With Us or Against Us - charts how.

In exclusive interviews for the BBC, world leaders and key players describe how they reacted in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, providing an extraordinary picture of how a new world order was created.

Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson reveals that it was he who suggested invoking Article 5 of the alliance's founding treaty for the first time, during a telephone call with US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists

US President George W Bush

Article 5 sets out the doctrine of mutual defence, under which an attack on one member is regarded as an attack on all.

Lord Robertson tells With Us or Against Us: "I spoke to Colin Powell... and pointed out to him that Article 5 of the Washington Treaty might well be relevant in this case.

"And he said: 'I don't know what you mean George'. I said: 'Well, Article 5 is an attack on one is an attack on us all'. And he said: 'I know what Article 5 is, but what is the relevance?'

"And I said: 'Well you have been attacked and I think there are people here who think this is an issue that you might want to raise and I have got a draft statement ready'. He said: 'I hadn't really thought about it, I'll come back to you'.

"So they did about 15 minutes later and said: 'Yeah, this is of real interest'."

When asked why the Americans themselves didn't suggest invoking Article 5, Lord Robertson says: "Well I think America, by and large, was still in shock."


On 12 September, Pakistan's top intelligence general, who happened to be on a visit to Washington, was called into the State Department and given a list of demands for assistance.

The following day, in a telephone call with Mr Powell, Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf said yes to them all.

US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
Rice says she was "moved" by the Russians' support
General Musharraf says: "I wouldn't say I was being bullied, but there was a lot of anger in the United States, and this anger was visible in their talking to me.

"On that day really the demand was whether we would join the coalition against terrorism around the world. I said yes, we will."

Alongside other changes in global diplomatic relations, the blossoming of a new relationship between Russia and the West is widely regarded as one of the greatest - and most unexpected - changes resulting from 11 September.

Within two hours of the attacks, the Russians signalled their support of America. President Vladimir Putin called the White House, but with George W Bush on board Air Force One, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice took the call.

Dr Rice recalls: "He said that Russia was standing down its military exercises because they knew that the United States had gone on a higher state of alert.

"And for an old Soviet specialist, who was accustomed to stories about spirals of alert between American and Soviet forces, to have the Russian president say 'We understand that this is an attack on you and that this is a co-operative effort' was very moving."


Russia's ambassador at the United Nations, Sergei Lavrov, agrees that relations have improved between the West and Russia.

He tells the programme that while relations had been improving for some time before 11 September, the attacks speeded that process up.

He says: "Long before 11 September we have been sharing with Americans and with our other colleagues, including the British, information which we had on international terrorism.

"And 11 September just triggered the reaction which was basically prepared already."

When asked whether the US had become more sympathetic to the problems of Chechnya after the attacks, Mr Lavrov said: "Well, to be very frank I have not noticed any unsympathetic attitude from our American colleagues before 11 September.

"But understanding, yes. I think understanding increased, not just in the United Nations, among the diplomats and the secretariat, but also in the American and the western media."

At the heart of the way America now looks at the world is the so-called Bush doctrine, first articulated by the president during his address to the nation on the evening of 11 September when he told the world: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Immediately after the terror attacks, America received unprecedented support, but one year on with war clouds gathering over Iraq, it remains to be seen how the coalition against terror progresses.

With Us or Against Us is a new four-part series and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and from this website, weekly on Tuesday 27 August 2002 at 2000 BST (1900 GMT).

The programme will also be broadcast weekly on the BBC World Service under the title The Diplomatic Jigsaw at 1030 BST (0930 GMT) from Friday 6 September 2002.

With Us or Against Us

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