Tony Blair for Press Secretary
Thank Goodness for the Brits. Read some of this speech:
First, we should remain the closest ally of the US, and as allies influence them to continue broadening their agenda. We are the ally of the US not because they are powerful, but because we share their values. I am not surprised by anti-Americanism; but it is a foolish indulgence. For all their faults and all nations have them, the US are a force for good; they have liberal and democratic traditions of which any nation can be proud. I sometimes think it is a good rule of thumb to ask of a country: are people trying to get into it or out of it? It’s not a bad guide to what sort of country it is.
The US choice to go through the UN over Iraq was a vital step, in itself and as a symbol of the desire to work with others. A broader agenda is not inimical to the US; on the contrary. For example the US decision to back a new relationship between Nato and Russia has made both missile defence and Nato enlargement easier and less divisive.
The price of British influence is not, as some would have it, that we have, obediently, to do what the US asks. I would never commit British troops to a war I thought was wrong or unnecessary. Where we disagree, as over Kyoto, we disagree.
But the price of influence is that we do not leave the US to face the tricky issues alone. By tricky, I mean the ones which people wish weren’t there, don’t want to deal with, and, if I can put it a little pejoratively, know the US should confront, but want the luxury of criticising them for it.
We must reach out to the Muslim world.
This is about three things. It is about even-handedness. The reason there is opposition over our stance on Iraq has less to do with any love of Saddam, but over a sense of double standards. The Middle East peace process remains essential to any understanding with the Muslim and Arab world. The terrorism inflicted upon innocent Israeli citizens is wicked and murderous and undoubtedly will bring strong action from the Israeli government. No democratic government could do otherwise. That is not the point. The point is that unless there is real energy put into crafting a process that can lead to lasting peace, neither the carnage of innocent Israelis nor the appalling suffering of the Palestinians will cease. At the moment the future of the innocent is held hostage by the terrorists.
But reaching out to the Muslim world also means engaging with how those countries move towards greater democratic stability, liberty and human rights. It means building pathways of understanding between Islam and other religious faiths. This seems an odd thing for a politician to say – but then I am used to clerics offering me advice. But we need to engage with mainstream Islam at a theological as well as political level. Inter-faith dialogue is one important part of greater understanding. The fanatics who abuse true Islam have to be challenged by ideas and values as much as by security and arms. They will recruit new volunteers as fast or faster as we imprison or destroy the old ones, unless we are helping those within the faith of Islam who are speaking out in favour of moderation, tolerance and sense.
Again, thank god for the Brits and Tony Blair. I will take one England over the rest of the EU any day of the week.