Friday, March 05, 2004

Response to Terrorism

For those not yet completely sick of Iraq war interrogations, you may want to read this. It's a recent Blair speech in which he provides further details on his "doctrine of international community." Choice quotes:

"[T]he notion of intervening on humanitarian grounds had been gaining currency. I set this out, following the Kosovo war, in a speech in Chicago in 1999, where I called for a doctrine of international community, where in certain clear circumstances, we do intervene, even though we are not directly threatened. I said this was not just to correct injustice, but also because in an increasingly inter-dependent world, our self-interest was allied to the interests of others; and seldom did conflict in one region of the world not contaminate another...So, for me, before September 11th, I was already reaching for a different philosophy in international relations from a traditional one that has held sway since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648; namely that a country's internal affairs are for it and you don't interfere unless it threatens you, or breaches a treaty, or triggers an obligation of alliance."

Although Blair notes that he did not consider Iraq to be a threat before 9/11, he notes that 9/11 changed his risk calculus:

"From September 11th on, I could see the threat plainly. Here were terrorists prepared to bring about Armageddon. Here were states whose leadership cared for no-one but themselves; were often cruel and tyrannical towards their own people; and who saw WMD as a means of defending themselves against any attempt external or internal to remove them and who, in their chaotic and corrupt state, were in any event porous and irresponsible with neither the will nor capability to prevent terrorists who also hated the West, from exploiting their chaos and corruption."

Blair also calls for UN reform:

"It means reforming the United Nations so its Security Council represents 21st century reality; and giving the UN the capability to act effectively as well as debate. It means getting the UN to understand that faced with the threats we have, we should do all we can to spread the values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, religious tolerance and justice for the oppressed, however painful for some nations that may be; but that at the same time, we wage war relentlessly on those who would exploit racial and religious division to bring catastrophe to the world."

Regardless of whether one agrees with Blair's statements, they make clear that those who claimed that Blair merely followed Bush into war in Iraq are wrong. Blair is capable of articulating a coherent, logical and long-held rationale for his actions that extends well beyond the US administration's declarations.

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