Blair: 'No Doubt bin Laden Did This'
July 7, 2008 - 8:10 PM
London (CNSNews.com) - There can be "no compromise" between Western nations and those who harbor terrorists, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday.
Blair called for "proportionate, targeted" action to eradicate a threat to humanity.
He urged delegates to the annual Labour Party conference in the southern city of Brighton - as well as thousands watching on television around the world - to try to understand the evil posed by terrorists.
"Listen to the calls of those passengers on the planes," Blair said. "Think of the cruelty, beyond our comprehension, as amongst the screams and anguish of the innocent, those hijackers drove at full throttle planes laden with fuel into buildings where tens of thousands of people work. They have no moral inhibition on the slaughter of the innocent.
"This is a battle with only one outcome - our victory, not theirs."
The prime minister used his speech to deliver a message America as well as a warning to the Taliban.
"From this nation goes our deepest sympathy for the victims and our profound solidarity with the American people," he said. "We were with you at the first. We will stay with you to the last."
He repeated warnings to Afghanistan's rulers to give up Osama bin Laden or face the wrath of an international alliance against terror.
"We will put a trap around the regime," Blair said. "I say to the Taliban: Surrender the terrorists or surrender power. That is your choice."
Blair pledged that coalition forces would do all they "humanly can" to avoid civilian casualties. But, he said, "Whatever the dangers of the action we take, the dangers of inaction are greater."
"Be in no doubt: Bin Laden and his people organised this atrocity. The Taliban aid and abet him," he said.
The prime minister stopped short of calling attacks on Afghanistan "inevitable," as some news reports had speculated he would. He was also careful not to characterize the overthrow of the Taliban as an explicit goal of military action, saying Afghanistan would receive Western support to rebuild "if the Taliban regime changes."
"We must build a humanitarian coalition alongside the military coalition," he said, and promised aid to the estimated 4.5 million Afghan refugees.
Blair also gave no indication on when any attacks would occur. The U.K. Parliament will meet Thursday in the second emergency session since the attacks - a move that some observers think means overt hostilities against Afghanistan are imminent.
Blair confronted doubts - some expressed by members of his own party - that international action would be effective against terrorist groups. He pointed to NATO action in Kosovo and British intervention in Sierra Leone as two recent examples of military success.
He also called for international cooperation against terrorism and further intervention in domestic conflicts to thwart terrorists and tyrants.
"Our way of life is a great deal stronger, and will last a great deal longer, than the acts of fanatics," he said.
The Sun newspaper reported Tuesday that Blair's speech was the first by a British prime minister to be written entirely without the aid of speechwriters since Winston Churchill's orations during World War II.