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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Tony Blair's warning: Did he reflect public opinion?
Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned the Taleban that they will be defeated and warned them to surrender the terrorists or surrender power.
In his speech to the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Mr Blair said the atrocities of September 11 had caused governments around the world to consider and change. He said it was time for the west to overcome its ignorance of Islam, but that it was also time for Islam to overcome its prejudice against America.
The Prime Minister accompanied his warning to those harbouring terrorists with a promise that everything possible will be done to avoid civilian casualties in any action that might be taken.
Do you think Mr Blair hit the right chord with his speech? Do his views reflect current public opinion three weeks after the attacks?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Lance O, US of A
Thanks Vin Agosta! Ignorance? I guess, the only thing left out is, lecture on ignorance from the US!
If all the people of the UK cannot comprehend that this war on terrorism is necessary, then you have a problem even greater than terrorism - ignorance.
It is precisely his kind of blundering and bullying politics that fuels the fires that rage in these fundamentalist madmen's hearts.
I don't know how detached from reality you have to be to make statements this ridiculous, but our "esteemed" premier seems to have reached that happy elevated position. The man is dangerous, will lead us into dangerous waters, and can't be trusted. When he has delivered all those doctors and nurses he so airily promised us, disarmed the IRA and UDF, and sorted out racism in the UK - then I will believe he can take on the rest of the world and change it.
But as it is, nothing has improved one jot since he came to power, and this promise of his will be as empty as all his other pronouncements.
Blair understands clearly that the attack on September 11 was an attack on secular democracy as much as an attack on the USA. I am amazed to find those who feel that appeasing the Taleban and other Islamic fundamentalists will stop terror. To those folks I would advise closer study of Chamberlain/Munich/and Hitler.
I didn't vote for Blair and I wouldn't vote for him in the future but the man is in his element with this conflict. I have no doubt that unlike some labour and liberal cowards this man will not let this country down. If I have to die fighting a war for this country then I want to die fighting for my freedom not hoping that this conflict goes away and that it's someone else's problem.
Do any of the people criticizing the speech on this board read his statement in FULL, or are they responding to what they infer is the hidden intention? Because if we all respond in this manner, then the hopes of any sort of resolution through dialog are very seriously at risk.
In forty years our living standards have escalated three times, whilst the rest of the world remains unchanged. Our larders and houses are littered with products that contribute to world oppression. We talk of innocent civilians and indiscriminate loss of life but the World Trade Centre is a symbol of our control and suppression.
Bin Laden is no more than a product of our greed and thoughtlessness. Kill him or gaol him, it doesn't matter one jot. The resentment that is felt by the worlds oppressed will not go away. Poor countries are too fearful to stand up to the West and our arbitrary set of values, for fear of your economic or military reprisals but the undercurrent in their populations, will only be intensified. - You cannot treat the Third World as though it is an inner city housing estate.
So Britain stands shoulder to shoulder with the USA to keep the world divided into haves and have-nots. And I have to be bombarded by the one-sided diatribe from our supposedly 'free' press. - I feel deeply ashamed of us.
But you, Mr. Blair, disgust me. This is a huge and wonderful opportunity, for us in the First World, to examine and understand, what has generated such a catastrophic tragedy. But all we do is react with aggression and outrage and demands for retribution. Anger will never be the answer, it will only generate more anger. And, anger is ultimately destructive. We don't need a warmonger, Mr. Blair, we need a visionary.
I think he's right in approaching the problem head on. The conflict has begun. It's naive to think that by inaction, attacks won't happen in other countries. There must be many responses. It seems inevitable that military responses will be needed, and certainly humanitarian responses.
Thank you PM Blair and the people of the UK as in all times of great sadness and loss it is so important to have your friends beside you. There are so many details to work out and political choices to make but it is very comforting to know that the UK is right beside us!
RIGHT ON Tony, I could not have said it better. Tony Blair did a fantastic job on his speech. If this massacre had have happened in the UK instead of here, we would still be shoulder to shoulder. As an American, I thank you all for your kind words and prayers. We of course will all fight for freedom, but this time we need to stick around and help this poor country to be a productive member of society.
When Germany had it in mind to take over Europe in World Wars I and II, the British gladly accepted the support of American troops and industry toward the preservation of THEIR country. I gladly thank all citizens of the UK who support the US in its time of crisis, and shame on the rest of you who think Tony Blair has done anything less than fulfil his responsibilities to the best of his abilities. Maybe the next time the Germans want to make you eat sauerkraut, we will let them.
Tony Blair for President!
Bravo Mr. Blair! No dancing around the issues for you. And certainly no question where you and our friends in the UK stand. Despite the destruction and pain, we've been given a rare opportunity to improve our world. Along with many other Americans, I'm proud you're shouldering that burden with us.
Sometimes you have to go to war to get peace and peace is what most of the world seems to want. Unfortunately these terrorist attacks will continue if not checked. I view any actions that the U.S. and Great Britain might take strictly as self-defense and liberation for the people of Afghanistan from their nightmare of a government. America was minding its business when thousands of people were brutally attacked for doing what millions of people do every day - going out to earn a living. Thank God for people like Tony Blair that get it.
By mentioning aid and the avoidance of civilian casualties he's trying to soften the impact of coming war and get us all to unite for this fight against a concept. As for Shaun's message on 'some of the mistakes the US made' well, does Sudan, Libya etc ring any bells?
I think he said the right words but they could have been a little harsher.
The ultimate ruling on the merits of the actions being talked about and taken by both our countries will come with time. Unfortunately, time is not a commodity we have to spare in this day. Whatever the long-term outcome is, this American, for one, is very proud of Mr. Blair's statements and our mother country's public resolve to stand beside us in our time of need. Your country represents to a great many of us, the finest in humanity and courage and it has always been so. History has shown that we can learn much from our cousins about being strong and fair in a time of hostility and sorrow. You're a class act. God Bless the UK.
Brandon Shaw, USA
I want to let Mr Blair know that you can fight with individuals, but you can't fight the whole. Whatever goes around comes around. You don't want people to bother your people, don't bother their people. I strongly believe that by changing the Afghan Government, things will get even worse. Leaders are nothing but human beings. In fact, Blair is even stupider than I thought. Think and think again before you induce people to violence
Tony Blair says he has seen the proof that Bin Laden was involved in the US attacks. If so, then why doesn't he show it to the Taleban? After all, the Taleban has agreed to hand over Laden if they can be shown the evidence. Isn't this reasonable? After all, in a democracy you are assumed innocent until proven guilty.
So what does Blair have to hide? Could it be that he really has no evidence against Bin Laden at all? I wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't.
Maybe Tony Blair doesn't reflect everyone's opinion here in the UK, but if you let terrorists get away with this then worse attacks will happen. Standing by the US is not just good for UK - US relations, but it is the right thing to do.
Lots of people in the UK fear reprisals but you have to stand up to evil and be prepared to take some casualties to save many more lives and our way of living.
When Mr Blair encourages his own sons to join the front line fight against terrorism I might then to start taking him seriously. For a man who sanctioned the release of hundreds of indiscriminate killers it really was some performance. Mr Blair is fooling no one who has half a brain. Come on Mr Blair, I give you a direct challenge to encourage your sons to join the armed forces as infantrymen and to take your message directly to the terrorists, and while you are at it, maybe you can persuade Jack Straw to offer the services if his son.
I congratulate Prime Minister Tony Blair on a speech which I found to be very much to the point. As Winston Churchill once said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Terrorism will be confronted and defeated. All decent men and nations will join in this fight until victory is achieved.
I think Tony Blair is dragging us all into a war. He seems
more the fighter than Bush, although we need to fight terrorism but Tony seems to be taking this fight more than Bush. I will like to point out that America did not take such stand on our behalf when the IRA were killing people in this country. Tony seems to thrive very well in crisis when we have our own problems to deal with in this country. I personally have never heard him address the IRA terrorists in this manner.
All this pacifist stuff is just sickening. It is not only sad that you have no intestinal fortitude, but apparently no moral backbone either. However to your country's credit, you have a great leader in Tony Blair. His speech was right on the money. At least he understands how important it is to have a friend that you can really count on (read USA), and has the character to lay it on the line when your best friend in all the world needs a little assistance. Point of fact is that we don't need anyone's help to exact justice on those murderers, but its always nice to have a friend to help out. Intelligent people realize that the USA and Great Britain really have only each other as allies. The rest of the Nato members are just full of hollow words. When push comes to shove, they can't be counted on for anything.
What many around the world probably do not recognise is that Tony Blair is taking the British people to war without consulting the democratic process by using Parliament. Whilst it was recalled once that was an event where no debate or voting took place. Although recalled on Thursday that will be a staged affair where MP's will be instructed not to cause trouble. If large-scale surveys were conducted the reality is that most of the public are extremely cautious about using our military and certainly feel any use must be concise and short. The British people do not in anyway believe this is an attack on Islam, it is against terrorists no one else. Tony Blair is leading our country like a President not as an elected Prime Minister. We should go to the UN and use their powers to convince the world community that this is not a campaign against Muslims.
I am British. Blair and Bush just want to test more weapons. There is no proof that we have been given that the Taleban were behind this. It may be true but until the US prove in a legal type situation i.e. to the satisfaction of a trial judge that the evidence is correct and not manufactured by over-enthusiastic investigators then they cannot in conscience bound go to war. They will be judged accordingly. Anyway, bombing Afghanistan will not end terrorism, just spawns more
Re. Tom's comments: I agree that the WWII policy of appeasement was flawed but it's easy to have perfect hindsight after an event has occurred. I also agree that terrorism is very destructive but one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. Look at the international community's role in fuelling civil wars and funding "terrorist" groups throughout the later half of the 20th century.
If my memory serves me correctly the US was in an isolationist state at the time of Hitler's rise and only came into the war after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour late in 1942. As late as April 14 1942 Roosevelt sent a telegram to Hitler offering trade (among other things) in return for peace. It is also strange that you see "times of war" as a given, since we were assured that concrete evidence would be shown first. This is no time for finger-pointing. No country is blameless. The US deserves to seek justice for the attacks. This is, however, one of the worst ways to do it.
Bombing for peace. I fail to see how that will work. This is not to excuse the actions of Al-Quaeda; but the consequences of violence will always be greater violence. Say Bush obliterates the Taleban. Will that make the West more or less popular with its critics? Will it breed more or less "fundamentalist" anger and violence? The West's leaders should be taking a stand against their own people and refusing to go to war.
Some people are forgetting that these acts took not only US lives, but hundred of Brits as well. Blair is correct in his condemnation and other countries that lost people should be as equally courageous.
One simply does not negotiate with mass murderers.
They've had their time to correct themselves and have only gotten worse over time.
It's time for intervention from the people who have had successful democracies and were target of their madness. To not stop it is to accept it.
Stash Domiszewski, Oman
I am very moved by Mr Blair's continued support and efforts. He has stood beside the US in many times of need, always sticking his neck out to help in any way he can. A true friend indeed.
This all sounds like a pathetic attempt by the Prime Minister to bolster support for himself at a time when the public is questioning his party's home performance so far.
Shame! If military action is the way to beat terrorists, then why was it not applied in N Ireland after the attack on Canary Wharf? A rhetorical question since we're all perfectly aware that the UK's superior military strength in Belfast has only helped to broaden the divide and drag out the conflict further!
It is precisely his kind of blundering and bullying politics that fuels the fires that rage in these fundamentalist madmen's hearts.
Michael Murray, Ottawa, Canada
This is all well and true and very just. Could someone please tell me what Tony Blair plans to do about the terrorists on our own doorstep. People have been dying in the UK for thirty years and now with a single act in the US (the saddest I have ever seen in my life as I am in New York at present and was during the attack), we must now wipe out terrorism from around the world. I want to know why now? This is something that should have been started in England years ago.
Blair needs to look himself in the mirror, and he will see some aspects of the Taleban in himself and his government. Listen to him talk about the plight of the children told they were about to die (yes, he is right it was horrible and undeserved), but he of all people should be the last to use that example, for there were and are Children in Iraq, who were not only told similarly by him and his allies, but in their case they do not die a swift death. May God help the world against the terrorist (whoever they are), but we will not begin to solve this unless the world can feel for all peoples, the plight they feel and felt for America in this tragedy.
Finally a Prime Minister who is not afraid to tell the truth, and represents the opinions of the silent majority of British people.
He is not afraid to spell out exactly who these criminals are, and to condemn their twisted version of Islam.
God Bless America, and God Bless Tony Blair - a man of courage.
Sal M, San Francisco, California
Tony Blair is right. Nothing can justify what was done to New York, America and thousands of innocents on 11 September. The US must now destroy the evil that threatens America and the civilized world.
Mr Blair's threat to Afghanistan can be termed as "overreaction". He has also compounded the terrorist attack on the USA with Islam and the West. The attack cannot be termed as attack of Islam on the West or USA. If the threat is in the perspective of Islamic Afghanistan giving shelter to Muslim Terrorist then a long war between Christianity and Zionism on one side and Islam and truth on the other side cannot be avoided. The world must consider and remove the causes of terrorism. The British Government must also consider the policy of giving shelter to the terrorist groups in Great Britain. Democratic freedom does not mean that killers, plunderers and criminals should be given shelter.
P DuBock, UK
A typical Blair speech apparently promising all things to all people, with a nice soundbite on almost every conceivable issue. While most people would agree with the theme of social justice, this rambling speech promised much that would be unachievable by even a superpower, but will deliver little. I am appalled by the use of the terrible events of September 11th to cloak domestic failings and to try to push the UK towards early entry into the Eurozone.
Ed Brauer, London, England
The Prime Minister's is quoted as saying: "I say to the Taleban, surrender the terrorists or surrender power. That is your choice." In the same speech he condemned the Taleban as a regime that oppressed the people of Afghanistan and flooded the streets of the West with drugs. So what are we to think: if the Taleban give up Bin Laden, we will allow them to operate? Or we will object and destroy them at a later date? Let's have a consistent policy towards the Taleban and say that we wish to see them removed rather than these bizarre choices which have no bearing on reality.
Tony Blair is going to lead us straight into the Third World War.
Blair was spot on and although I didn't vote for him, on this issue he has been outstanding. God bless America!
Peter C. Kohler, USA
Excellent speech by Mr. Tony Blair!
For the first time in my memory we here in the USA got to hear almost all of Mr Blair's speech instead of just a token few seconds or minutes. I wish CNN had kept it going to the end.
This American thanks him for his words of support and for acknowledging that every country is impacted by the tragedy.
I appreciated Mr Blair's remarks. I have some knowledge of Islam and of Middle Eastern culture and I do not believe a weak response will serve the free peoples of the world.
Sharif Nashashibi, UK
America and the UK are probably the only two countries with the conviction, capability and determination to stamp out terrorism.
All the other countries in the so-called alliance agree with the US and UK as long as they are not involved in military action themselves. Obviously some countries in the alliance have skeletons in their cupboards. The only language the terrorists understand is force. The negative side of this involves the number of innocent civilians that inevitably will get caught in the process.
By mentioning aid and avoiding the issue of civilian casualties he's trying to soften the impact of coming war and get us all to unite for this fight against a concept.
Why didn't Goeff Hoon make this speech? Surely it's the job of the Ministry of Defence to undertake any campaign against the Taleban. Does Tony Blair actually talk to any of his cabinet colleagues, or is he just trying to deal with the problem single handedly?
The best speech I've heard him give. Just as Bush's, with Blair present, to the US Congress was. Strong but reasoned.
I didn't listen to the speech as my time is too valuable to waste listening to a puppet on American strings.
I am surprised by Mr Blair's outright threat. However I believe it's needed and justified.
I do not think that Blair is considering the views of the public. This isn't new. He is acting like a vigilante, which he never did after the Omagh bombings, for example. He must stop the funding of all terrorist organisations, not just Islamic.
I don't know a soul that likes war, but I see little other choice. I am puzzled by any other concept. I have a son in the marines and he is prepared to go. Yes, I agree with Blair's statements.
I was struck by Mr Blair's stance on global participation to eradicate the terror scourges from our civilisation and also the fact that he emphasised that all nations should step back and rethink its opinion on other atrocities which have occurred or may occur in the future. We, too, have sceptics in our country but now is not the time to debate the 'principals of politics'. Instead, the debate should be focused on humanity and what we must all do, together, to assure a peaceful co-existence for us all.
Of course Mr Blair was right to threaten the Taleban. What Osama Bin Laden did was inexcusable and cannot go unpunished. I know that Americans want justice for this horrible tragedy and I believe that other countries do as well, because this was an attack against freedom and liberty. It is time to launch fierce military strikes against the Taleban, and we must oust that evil government. Osama Bin Laden must be put to death, there should be no trial. The US and Britain are the defenders of freedom and democracy and we cannot let the terrorists control our lives. The world should be a safe place to live. I whole heartedly support Mr Blair.
I believe that Tony Blair had the right to say what he did and I agree we need to stick together with other Nato countries as one. We can beat the war on terrorism.
I am anything but a Blair supporter, but as far as his stance on the attacks goes he has my full backing. The US has always been our greatest friend and we should rally behind them. It's as simple as that. We can all wax lyrical about some of the mistakes the US has made over the years in their foreign policies, but we too made naive and costly misjudgements. It is inevitable. By any measure, the disgraceful actions visited upon the US on September 11 can never be justified. We must help our friend take action to ensure such misery never happens again.
Not my opinion. I abhor the idea of going to war. I think that we should set an example of booting out the terrorists we harbouring in our country, freezing all assets of known terrorists, destroying the drug fields in Afghanistan thus hitting both their finances and the drug trade and educating the Afghan people so that they may find the power to overcome their own government. But I do not think we should go to war. I would rather spend my taxes on education and healthcare in this country before destroying someone else's. As Ghandi put it "an eye for an eye makes everyone blind". This kind of overt retaliation will only fuel the fires of hatred and we have far more to lose than them. I wouldn't declare war on Afghanistan and I don't agree with my taxes funding Tony Blair's political opportunities. I don't think it is a fitting tribute to those who died that we go forward and cause more massacres. We owe them more than that.
Re. Sharon's comments: Hiding your head in the sand is the quickest way to have it cut off. Do you have any historical sense of what happens when madmen like this are appeased? Do you remember Hitler- and what your brand of response brought the world then? bin Laden, like Hitler, has de facto declared war on the US and begun to massacre civilians. Had the US ignored Hitler's declaration of war on us, stayed home with our heads in the sand, and taken the stance that "this is not America's war", Europe would certainly be a far different place today- and I doubt if you'd have much say about what healthcare and education looked like in the UK. Moreover, it is not the poppy fields of Afghanistan that finance this terror, but coordinated sources outside the country. Pacifism is a fine philosophy, but sheer fatalism in times af war: get your head out of the sand and look around you.
No, but then he never has reflected my opinion. Maybe that's why I didn't vote for him.
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