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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 10:38 GMT
Terror attacks were 'bound to happen'
CBI Conference 2001 graphic
By BBC News Online's Mike Verdin at the CBI conference

Growing unrest over the global wealth divide made the 11 September attacks inevitable, one of the UK's leading business chiefs has said.

The ability of new technologies to disseminate images highlighting "vast disparities of wealth", and to accelerate the spread of political "forces", has rendered the West increasingly vulnerable to protest, Sir Iain Vallance, president of the Confederation of British Industry, said.

"The envy [wealth differences] breed, and the associated political unrest, are there for all to see, day in day out, via the global networked media," said Sir Iain, who was previously chairman of British Telecom.

This cocktail of economic and political factors, "without even mentioning radical religions," meant that "sooner or later something was going to give," Sir Iain said.

"The fact that the protests and direct action against Western capitalism, which we have seen develop over a number of years, would sooner or later spill over into terrorist attacks... should not come as a surprise."

'Warts and all'

While Western democracies had in the past been able to support their credentials through comparison with the Soviet bloc, the collapse of communism had left them exposed "warts and all".

"Western democratic capitalism has been left standing on its own," he said, in the opening speech to the 25th CBI conference.

"That is a different and far more precarious proposition.

"We freedom-loving capitalist democracies have let our gaurd down in recent years. We have underestimated the antiphathy towards us and misunderstood its nature.

"We have taken the superiority of our institutions and values too much for granted."

Speaking on the eve of the World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha, he urged executives to remember, and promote, their political and social responsibilities.

"[Business] has a responsibility to demonstrate the key contribution that its task of wealth creation makes on behalf of society as a whole - including that of the Third World."

See also:

04 Nov 01 | Business
CBI seeks to restore credibility
03 Oct 01 | Business
Consignia cuts 1bn to stem 'crisis'
30 Aug 01 | Business
Claims Direct sale provokes outrage
26 Apr 01 | Business
Vallance resigns from BT
04 Nov 01 | Business
CBI warns of 'winter of discontent'
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