Liberty Tony Blair’s speech to

Tony Blair’s speech to Congress is superb. It should have the impact of Winston Churchill’s “iron curtain” speech. The NYT has the transcript:

September the 11th was not an isolated event, but a tragic prologue, Iraq another act, and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it’s over.

There never has been a time when the power of America was so necessary or so misunderstood …

There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don’t; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia’s savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere — (applause) — anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.

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. (Applause.)

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.”

And it is this sense of justice that makes moral the love of liberty …

The risk is that terrorism and states developing weapons of mass destruction come together, and when people say that risk is fanciful, I say we know the Taliban supported al Qaeda. We know Iraq, under Saddam, gave haven to and supported terrorists. We know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people who regard it as God’s will in the act of suicide to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God’s judgement. Some of these states are desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons. We know that companies and individuals with expertise sell it to the highest bidder. And we know that at least one state, North Korea, lets its people starve while spending billions of dollars on developing nuclear weapons and exporting the technology abroad. This isn’t fantasy. It is 21st century reality and it confronts us now. (Applause.)

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. (Sustained applause.) …

So America must listen as well as lead. But, members of Congress, don’t ever apologize for your values. (Applause.) 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 — (laughter) — 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. (Cheers, sustained applause.)

As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible, but in fact, it is transient. The question is, what do you leave behind? And what you can bequeath to this anxious world is the light of liberty. That is what this struggle against terrorist groups or states is about. 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 — (laughter) — 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. (Sustained applause.)

Blair and Bush are very much together in their view of freedom as a universal human right, and in their sense of the U.S. being chosen in this moment of time.

Read it all. It’s worth it.

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