This past Sunday (NOV-14), Tony Blair was on NBC’s Meet the Press . I’ve always liked Tony Blair… such a eloquent and intelligent speaker. This was one of the more interesting interviews I’ve seen. I thought the following exchange between Russert & Blair was conveyed some of my deep feelings about the current conflict (video excerpts on the epispode homepage1):
MR. RUSSERT: How does President Bush turn around his standing with the British people and with Europe in general?
PRIME MIN. BLAIR: Well, I think the most important thing is to keep explaining to people why we’re doing this ‘cause you can have two views of the world. And this is–at the root of the problem is this. Some people say, “You’ve got these terrorists who are doing these terrible things, but is it any worse than what the IRA used to do in Britain or, you know, what that Baader-Meinhof gang did in Germany or”– and that’s one view. And then you’ve got another view which is the view I happen to take which is, yes, this is fundamentally different. When these people killed 3,000 totally innocent people in an unprovoked slaughter on the streets of New York, if the world doesn’t wake up to that and say something, “What is going on here? Something different is going on,” then it’s certainly not facing up to reality.
Now, it’s the clash of those two views and what sometimes people in Europe find hard to understand is that the American world view changed on September the 11th. And that’s what I keep trying to explain to people, and I also explain to them, “Understand this as well. They didn’t attack America because it was America. They attacked America because of what it stood for in the world.”
So the attack on America was an attack on us, too, ‘cause we stand for the same things. And, yes, we could protect ourselves from this if we gave up our ability to influence world events, said that these people could Taliban-ize and make into fanatical states any of these states around the Middle East region. But I said we shouldn’t do that. So that’s the problem and you’ve got this disagreement. Is this a problem that we’ve overreacted to so that we are provoking these people now, or is it actually a fundamental worldwide movement for terrorism of a different nature from before that we have to confront? And that’s–you know, often when you get a situation like this, you get division because people–you know, there are passionate views held on either side, and our task, I think, is to get out and persuade people.
While I’m on the subject… the Prime Minister of England gave a speech on July 17, 2003 to a joint session of Congress in what I thought was one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard and thought I’d link it here2 as well.