Friday, July 18, 2003
Blair's speech: You can find the text of his remarks here.
A few choice quotes:
There never has been a time when the power of America was so necessary or so misunderstood, or when, except in the most general sense, a study of history provides so little instruction for our present day.
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.
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."
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.
Europe has one potential for weakness. For reasons that are obvious--we spent roughly a thousand years killing each other in large numbers--the political culture of Europe is, inevitably, rightly based on compromise. Compromise is a fine thing, except when based on an illusion, and I don't believe you can compromise with this new form of terrorism.
Members of Congress, if this seems a long way from the threat of terror and weapons of mass destruction, it is only to say again that the world's security cannot be protected without the world's heart being one. So America must listen as well as lead. But, members of Congress, don't ever apologize for your values. Tell the world why you're proud of America. Tell them when "The Star-Spangled Banner" starts, Americans get to their feet--Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Central Europeans, East Europeans, Jews, Muslims, white, Asian, black, those who go back to the early settlers, and those whose English is the same as some New York cab drivers I've dealt with--but whose sons and daughters could run for this Congress. Tell them why Americans, one and all, stand upright and respectful. Not because some state official told them to, but because whatever race, color, class or creed they are, being American means being free. That's why they're proud.
We're not fighting for domination. We're not fighting for an American world, though we want a world in which America is at ease. We're not fighting for Christianity, but against religious fanaticism of all kinds. And this is not a war of civilizations, because each civilization has a unique capacity to enrich the stock of human heritage. We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind--black or white; Christian or not; left, right or merely indifferent--to be free--free to raise a family in love and hope, free to earn a living and be rewarded by your own efforts, free not to bend your knee to any man in fear, free to be you, so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others.
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--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
It was an excellent speech. While it showed in prime time in Britain, it was a little early for most here in the United States, but I hope that Blair's message gets wide play.