Today, of course, we face a new challenge: global terrorism.
Let us state one thing.
These terrorists do not, never have and never will represent the decent, humane and principled faith of Islam.
Muslims, like all of us, abhor terrorism. Like all of us, are its victims.
It is, as ever, only fringe fanatics we face.
But we need to make it clear.
When people come to our country, they have and should have the full rights we believe in. There should be no second-class citizens in Britain. But citizenship comes with a duty: to give loyalty to our nation, its values and our way of life.
If people have a grievance, politics is the answer. Not terror.
Terrorism brings home to us this now obvious truth of the modern world. Nations, even the largest, need to work together for their common good.
Isolationism is as backward as protectionism. For a country the size of Britain, there is no securing our future without strong alliances.
When I became Prime Minister I took a decision: always be at the forefront where decisions are made not at the back where they’re handed down.
That is why at every point, no matter how difficult we remain strong partners in Europe. By all means let us fight for reform in Europe; but to isolate ourselves from the world’s largest commercial market in which over 50% of our trade is done, is just a crazy policy for Britain in the 21st century.
Britain should also remain the strongest ally of the United States. I know there’s a bit of us that would like me to do a Hugh Grant in Love Actually and tell America where to get off. But the difference between a good film and real life is that in real life there’s the next day, the next year, the next lifetime to contemplate the ruinous consequences of easy applause.
I never doubted after September 11th that our place was alongside America and I don’t doubt it now.
And for a very simple reason. Terrorism struck most dramatically in New York but it was aimed then, and is aimed now, at us all, at our way of life.
This is a global struggle.
Today it is at its fiercest in Iraq.
It has allied itself there with every reactionary element in the Middle East.
Their aim: to wreck this December’s first ever direct election for the Government of Iraq.
I know there are people, good people, who disagreed with the decision to remove Saddam by force.
But for two years, British troops whose bravery and dedication we salute, along with those of 27 other nations, have been in Iraq with full United Nations authority and in support of the Iraqi Government.
Yes, several hundred people stoned British troops in Basra.
Yes, several thousand run the terrorist insurgency around Baghdad.
And yes, as a result of the fighting, innocent people tragically die.
But 8 ½ million Iraqis showed which future they wanted when they came out and voted in January’s elections.
And the way to stop the innocent dying is not to retreat, to withdraw, to hand these people over to the mercy of religious fanatics or relics of Saddam, but to stand up for their right to decide their Government in the same democratic way the British people do.
Ten days ago, after years of struggle, finally in Afghanistan, 6 million people voted freely to decide their own future.
How dare the terrorists justify their campaign of hate by claiming they are angry about Afghanistan? Was it better under their Taleban?
They use Iraq and Afghanistan, just as they use the cause of Palestine, whilst trying to destroy by terror the only solution that will ever work: a secure Israel living side-by-side with a viable independent and democratic Palestine.
Just as they chose the day of the G8 when the world was trying to address the heartbreaking poverty of Africa, to kill innocent people in London.
Strip away their fake claims of grievance and see them for what they are: terrorists who use 21st century technology to fight a pre-medieval religious war that is utterly alien to the future of humankind.
I know we could have hidden away at the back after September 11th and let others take the strain.
But that is not Britain at its best.
Nor is it this Party.
When we campaign for justice in Africa, that is a progressive cause.
When we push for peace in Palestine, it is a progressive cause.
When we act against global warming, it is a progressive cause.
And when we fight behind the standard of democracy in Afghanistan or Iraq or Kosovo or Sierra Leone, for me that too is a progressive cause.
In each case, Britain in these last 8 years has been at the front. Not always succeeding, but never a spectator. In the modern world, for all the pain it can bring, it is the only place to be.
It’s a daunting agenda isn’t it; and in every area of policy we are called upon to adjust our sights, re-think, renew.
But have confidence.
We are well up to it.
No-one else is.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
This is what he said about Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror. Not quite Shakespeare, but not too shabby: