The New York Times has the full text of PM Tony Blair’s speech to Congress yesterday. A few other good lines I forgot yesterday:
September the 11th was not an isolated event, but a tragic prologue, Iraq another act, and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it’s over.
What the anti-war left fails to understand is that even if there is not a tenable link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, there is an ideological one. Both were attempting to become champions of a new pan-Arab alliance to destroy Israel and the United States, and both would use whatever methods they could to do so. Both were threats to the peace and security of the United States and the region, and both will be found and brought to justice.
There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don’t; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia’s savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere — (applause) — anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack.
And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify around an idea. And that idea is liberty. (Applause.)
We must find the strength to fight for this idea and the compassion to make it universal. Abraham Lincoln said, "Those that deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."
And it is this sense of justice that makes moral the love of liberty.
This strikes at the heart of what this war is about. There are millions of people in the Arab world who live in shackles due to an ideology that combines radical Islam with the tenets of fascism. The Western world can and must end this practice. We cannot simply live with the fact that the Iraqis were being oppressed in Iraq, nor can we simply live with the oppression of Iran. In such circumstances as we are able, that means removing such repressive regimes from Tehran to Pyongyang through whatever means are necessary.
The risk is that terrorism and states developing weapons of mass destruction come together, and when people say that risk is fanciful, I say we know the Taliban supported al Qaeda. We know Iraq, under Saddam, gave haven to and supported terrorists. We know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people who regard it as God’s will in the act of suicide to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God’s judgement. Some of these states are desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons. We know that companies and individuals with expertise sell it to the highest bidder. And we know that at least one state, North Korea, lets its people starve while spending billions of dollars on developing nuclear weapons and exporting the technology abroad. This isn’t fantasy. It is 21st century reality and it confronts us now. (Applause.)
Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together? Let us say one thing: If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least, is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive. But if our critics are wrong, if we are right, as I believe with every fiber of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership.
That is something history will not forgive. (Sustained applause.)
Again, if there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (even though that is still highly unlikely), then the coalition has still removed a horrendous dictator and given birth to freedom in a country of tens of millions. If we were wrong, then it was a mistake that was based in the knowledge that we were acting in a just manner. The threat of terrorists with weapons of mass destruction is not a fantasy, and if we do not act to prevent this form of destruction millions will die. No President and no Prime Minister should act with anything less than the utmost viligence against such a nightmare scenario.
That’s what we’re fighting for, and it’s a battle worth fighting. And I know it’s hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I’ve never been to but always wanted to go — (laughter) — I know out there, there’s a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, “Why me, and why us, and why America?” And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do. (Sustained applause.)
And our job — my nation, that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond — our job is to be there with you. You’re not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. (Sustained applause.)
We will be with you in this fight for liberty. And if our spirit is right and our courage firm, the world will be with us.