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7/30/03 - BLAIR TO CONGRESS ON TERROR - 2003-07-31

In his speech to the U.S. Congress, British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned of the continuing danger posed by terrorists and the states that support them. “The purpose of terrorism,” said Mr. Blair, “is not the single act of wanton destruction”:

“It is the reaction it seeks to provoke: economic collapse, the backlash, the hatred, the division, the elimination of tolerance, until societies cease to reconcile their differences and become defined by them. Kashmir, the Middle East, Chechnya, Indonesia, Africa -- barely a continent or nation is unscathed.”

The risk, said Prime Minister Blair, “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 Taleban supported al-Qaida. 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 judgment.”

Some of these states, Mr. Blair pointed out, “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.”

People ask how the British and Americans and their allies can be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together. “Let us say one thing,” said Mr. Blair:

“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. . .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,” said Prime Minister Blair, that “history will not forgive.”