Compare two recent speeches of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush on fighting terrorism following the London bombings on July 7. Despite being the closest of allies, they portray the battle against terrorism in starkly different terms.
President Bush continues to misconstrue his “war on terror” for his own political purposes, providing vague and superficial strategies for addressing terrorism and diverting all attention to Iraq. In a speech on July 11, 2005 at the FBI Academy, President Bush states:
In the war on terror, Iraq is now the central front. The terrorists fight in Iraq because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the other hand, never uses the terminology the “war on terror” and recognizes that fighting terrorism requires more than force and superficial actions, but a deeper confrontation of causes and symptoms. In a speech on July 16, 2005, Prime Minister Tony Blair had a different take than President Bush:
It is not a clash of civilizations–all civilized people, Muslim or other, feel revulsion at it. But it is a global struggle and it is a battle of ideas, hearts and minds, both within Islam and outside it.
Its [ideology of terrorism] roots are not superficial, but deep. In the madrassas of Pakistan, in the extreme forms of Wahabi doctrine in Saudi Arabia, in the former training camps of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan; in the cauldron of Chechnya; in parts of politics of most countries of the Middle East and many in Asia; in the extremist minority that now in every European city preach hatred of the West and our way of life. This is what we are up against. It cannot be beaten except by confronting it, symptoms and causes, head-on. Without compromise and without delusion.
Note — Prime Minister Blair does not even mention Iraq.
We must be clear about how we win this struggle. We should take what security measures we can. But let us not kid ourselves. In the end, it is by power of argument, debate, true religious faith and true legitimate politics that will defeat this threat.
President Bush needs to move beyond the rhetoric of the “war on terrorism” and “spreading the hope of freeedom across the broader Middle East” and listen a little bit more closely to Prime Minister Blair and others about what fighting terrorism will actually entail in practical terms.
- Caroline Wadhams