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July 21, 2005

Foolish Questions, and Very Good Answers

From the press conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard and British Prime Minister Tony Blair after today's (yesterday's, depending upon where you are) attacks:

Embarrassingly stupid question: Prime Minister [Blair], you have appealed for people to stay calm, but do you feel any sense of responsibility at all for the fact that ordinary people here in London now seem to be in the frontline in the war against terror?

Prime Minister Blair (dodging the idiotic question, giving the pinhead a chance to save face): Well I think what is important is that people do stay calm and react in the way that they have reacted so far. And the very purpose of the people who are doing this type of thing, their purpose is precisely in order to make people worried and frightened and taking responsibility off the shoulders of the people who engage in these types of acts. And we have just got to remain as we have been. I think the one thing, and the Prime Minister was just saying this a moment or two ago, the one thing that has come across very clearly over the past couple of weeks has been the impact if you like that the British attitude has had on the rest of the world, where people have seen our country react to terrorist attacks that are meant to make people frightened, and worried, and scared, and react with great dignity, and great strength and great determination that it doesn't change us, it is not going to change what we do. And therefore when something like this happens again today, and as I say I can't give you the full details of it at the moment, and the police will at a later time, our reaction has got to be the same. To react in any other way I think is to engage in the game they want us to engage in.

Incredibly stupid question asked again: Do you feel in any sense that you have put people in this position, do you feel that in a sense your policies may have put people in this position?

Prime Minister Blair gives a polite answer: Well I think I have said to you before, that I feel that people who are responsible for doing these things are the people who do them.

Question: To both Prime Ministers, what was your immediate reaction on hearing that some incidents had occurred, was it here we go again? And do incidents like this, coming just 14 days after the horrific attacks, suggest that the war against terror is being lost on the streets? And yesterday an Australian bomb victim of July 7 linked the bombings to Iraq. Does that suggest that the propaganda war against terrorists is also being lost?

Prime Minister John Howard: Could I start by saying the Prime Minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it, and my first reaction was to get some more information, and I really don't want to add to what the Prime Minister has said. It is a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here. Could I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government, and indeed the policies of the British and American government on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it has given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq; and could I remind you that the 11 September occurred before the operation in Iraq; can I also remind you that the very first occasion that Bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor.

Are people, by implication, suggesting that we shouldn't have done that? When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on 7 July, they talked about British policy, not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Melo was murdered in Iraq, a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, immensely respected for his work in the United Nations, when al Queda gloated about that they referred specifically to the role that de Melo had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor. Now I don't know the mind of the terrorist, by definition you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber, I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I have cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq, and indeed all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggest to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion that at its root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances, rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

Prime Minister Blair: I agree 100% with that.

Question: Inaudible.

Prime Minister Blair: No, I don't think so at all actually, I don't think so at all. I think that in the end though, I was asked this question I think it was at the press conference I had on Tuesday with President Karzai from Afghanistan, but the roots of this are deep. You know this is the mistake of people thinking this suddenly began in the past couple of years, the roots of this were deep, the terrorist attacks go back over 10 years. And the way of defeating it is to defeat it of course by security measures, but also by going after the ideas of these people, the ideology of these people, their arguments as well as their methods, taking them on and defeating them, and the best way of doing that is to show how the values of freedom, and tolerance, and respect for people of other religions and races is the best way to lead our lives.

But in the end what they want us to do is to turn round and say oh it is our fault. The people who are responsible for terrorist attacks are the terrorists, and this combination of this evil bankrupt ideology based on a perversion of Islam with terrorism, this is something that has built over a period of time, it will have to be dismantled over a period of time, but I have got no doubt at all that in the end the values that we represent are the values that will triumph.

And do you know why I say that, I say that because every time people in somewhere like Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Palestine, these causes that they try to pray upon, every time the ordinary people in those countries are given the chance to vote, they vote, and they actually prefer the democratic way of life too, and that is why in the end we will win.

Rock on, Blair and Howard.

Posted by Jeff at July 21, 2005 11:05 PM


If you hold a Chameleon for a long time can it die

Posted by: Jesse Sepulveda at July 28, 2005 12:14 AM

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