Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Bush and Blair: Call for multi-national force at Israeli- Lebanon border.

| 1 Comment

President Bushhosted British Prime Minister Tony Blairat the White House on they have a plan for the Mideast? Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to Jerusalem this weekend.

Date: 7/28/06 3

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release July 28, 2006




The East Room

12:36 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all. Prime Minister Tony Blair,
welcome back to the White House. As you know, we've got a close
relationship. You tell me what you think. You share with me your
perspective -- and you let me know when the microphone is on.

Today the Prime Minister and I talked about the ways we're working
to advance freedom and human dignity across the world. Prime Minister
Blair and I discussed the crisis in the Middle East. In Lebanon,
Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian sponsors are willing to kill, and
to use violence to stop the spread of peace and democracy -- and they're
not going to succeed.

The Prime Minister and I have committed our governments to a plan
to make every effort to achieve a lasting peace out of this crisis. Our
top priorities in Lebanon are providing immediate humanitarian relief,
achieving an end to the violence, ensuring the return of displaced
persons, and assisting with reconstruction. We recognize that many
Lebanese people have lost their homes, so we'll help rebuild the
civilian infrastructure that will allow them to return home safely.

Our goal is to achieve a lasting peace, which requires that a free,
democratic and independent Lebanese government be empowered to exercise
full authority over its territory. We want a Lebanon free of militias
and foreign interference, and a Lebanon that governs its own destiny, as
is called for by U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680.

We agree that a multinational force must be dispatched to Lebanon
quickly, to augment a Lebanese army as it moves to the south of that
country. An effective multinational force will help speed delivery of
humanitarian relief, facilitate the return of displaced persons, and
support the Lebanese government as it asserts full sovereignty over its
territory and guards its borders.

We're working quickly to achieve these goals. Tomorrow, Secretary
Rice will return to the region. She will work with the leaders of
Israel and Lebanon to seize this opportunity to achieve lasting peace
and stability for both of their countries. Next week, the U.N. Security
Council will meet, as well. Our goal is a Chapter 7 resolution setting
out a clear framework for cessation of hostilities on an urgent basis,
and mandating the multinational force.

Also at the United Nations, senior officials from many countries
will meet to discuss the design and deployment of the multinational
force. Prime Minister Blair and I agree that this approach gives the
best hope to end the violence and create lasting peace and stability in
Lebanon. This approach will demonstrate the international community's
determination to support the government of Lebanon, and defeat the
threat from Hezbollah and its foreign sponsors.

This approach will make possible what so many around the world want
to see: the end of Hezbollah's attacks on Israel, the return of Israeli
soldiers taken hostage by the terrorists, the suspension of Israel's
operations in Lebanon, and the withdrawal of Israeli forces.

This is a moment of intense conflict in the Middle East. Yet our
aim is to turn it into a moment of opportunity and a chance for a
broader change in the region. Prime Minister Blair and I remain
committed to the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine,
living side-by-side in peace and security. This vision has been
embraced by Israel, the Palestinians, and many others throughout the
region and the world, and we will make every effort to make this vision
a reality. The United States is committed to using all of its influence
to seize this moment to build a stable and democratic Middle East.

We also talked about other regions and other challenges and other
conflicts. The Prime Minister and I each met with the Prime Minister of
Iraq this week. The U.S. and U.K. are working together to support the
Prime Minister and his unity government, and we will continue to support
that government.

Afghanistan's people and their freely-elected government can also
count on our support. Our two nations urge Iran to accept the EU-3
offer, which also has the backing of Russia, China, and the United
States. We agree that the Iranian regime will not be allowed to develop
or acquire nuclear weapons. The suffering in Darfur deserves the name
of genocide. Our two nations support a United Nations peacekeeping
mission in Darfur, which is the best hope for the people in that region.

I want to thank you for coming. It's good to discuss these urgent
matters with you. We will continue to consult with each other as events
unfold in the Middle East and beyond. The alliance between Britain and
America is stronger than ever, because we share the same values, we
share the same goals, and we share the same determination to advance
freedom and to defeat terror across the world.

Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for
your welcome to the White House once again. And first of all, I'd like
to say some words about the present Middle East crisis, and then we'll
talk about some of the other issues that we discussed.

What is happening in the Middle East at the moment is a complete
tragedy for Lebanon, for Israel and for the wider region. And the scale
of destruction is very clear. There are innocent lives that have been
lost, both Lebanese and Israeli. There are hundreds of thousands of
people that have been displaced from their homes, again, both in Lebanon
and in Israel. And it's been a tremendous and terrible setback for
Lebanon's democracy.

We shouldn't forget how this began, how it started. In defiance of
the U.N. Resolution 1559, Hezbollah, for almost two years, has been
fortifying and arming militia down in the south of Lebanon, when it is
the proper and democratically elected government of Lebanon and its
armed forces who should have control of that area, as they should of the
whole of Lebanon. They then, in defiance of that U.N. resolution,
crossed the U.N. blue line. As you know, they kidnapped two Israeli
soldiers; they killed eight more. Then, of course, there was the
retaliation by Israel, and there are rockets being fired from the south
of Lebanon into the north of Israel the entire time.

So we know how this situation came about and how it started, and
the question is, now, how to get it stopped and get it stopped with the
urgency that the situation demands.

Since our meeting in St. Petersburg for the G8, we have been
working hard on a plan to ensure that this happens. And as well as,
obviously, the consultations that I've had with President Bush, I've
spoken to President Chirac, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Erdogan of
Turkey, the President of the European Union, the Prime Minister of
Finland, and many, many others.

And as the President has just outlined to you, I think there are
three essential steps that we can take in order to ensure that there is
the cessation of hostilities we all want to see. The first is, I
welcome very much the fact that Secretary Rice will go back to the
region tomorrow. She will have with her the package of proposals in
order to get agreement both from the government of Israel and the
government of Lebanon on what is necessary to happen in order for this
crisis to stop.

Secondly, we are bringing forward to Monday the meeting in the
United Nations about the international stabilization force. And again,
this is something we've been discussing with various different countries
over the past few days. The absolute vital importance of that force is
that it is able to ensure that the agreement the international community
comes to in respect of Lebanon is enforced, and that we have the
government of Lebanon able to make its writ run fully with its own armed
forces in the south of Lebanon.

And then, thirdly, as the President has just said to you, we want
to see tabled and agreed a U.N. resolution as early as possible that
will allow the cessation of hostilities. Provided that resolution is
agreed and acted upon, we can, indeed, bring an end to this crisis. But
nothing will work unless, as well as an end to the immediate crisis, we
put in place the measures necessary to prevent it occurring again.

That is why I return at every opportunity to the basis of the
United Nations Resolution 1559 -- almost two years ago now -- that said
precisely what should happen in order to make sure that the southern
part of Lebanon was not used as a base for armed militia. The purpose
of what we are doing, therefore, is to bring about, yes, the cessation
of hostilities, which we want to see as quickly and as urgently as
possible, but also to put in place a framework that allows us to
stabilize the situation for the medium and longer-term.

In addition to that, we, both of us, believe it is important that
we take the opportunity to ensure that the Middle East peace process,
which has been in such difficulty over the past few months, is given
fresh impetus towards the two-state solution that we in the
international community want to see. In the end, that is of fundamental
importance, also, to the stability and peace of the region.

Now, in addition to all of these things -- and obviously, we
discussed Iraq, as the President has just said, and the work that our
troops are doing in Iraq and, indeed, in Afghanistan. And if I might,
let me, once again, pay tribute to the quite extraordinary
professionalism, dedication, bravery and commitment of the armed forces
of both the United States and the United Kingdom, and the many other
countries that are working there with us.

In addition to that, as the President indicated to you, we
discussed the situation in the Sudan. We will have an opportunity to
discuss other issues later, notably, obviously the World Trade talks and
other such things. But I want to emphasize, just in concluding my
opening remarks, by referring once again to the absolutely essential
importance of ensuring that not merely do we get the cessation of
hostilities now in Lebanon, and in respect of Israel, but that we take
this opportunity -- since we know why this has occurred, we know what
started it, we know what the underlying forces are behind what has
happened in the past few weeks -- we take this opportunity to set out
and achieve a different strategic direction for the whole of that
region, which will allow the government of Lebanon to be in control of
its country, Lebanon to be the democracy its people want, and also allow
us to get the solution in respect of Palestine that we have wanted so
long to see.

If we are able, out of what has been a tragedy, a catastrophe for
many of the people in the region, to achieve such a thing, then we will
have turned what has been a situation of tragedy into one of
opportunity. And we intend to do that.


Three questions a side. Tom.

Q Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, with support apparently
growing among the Arab population, both Shia and Sunni, for Hezbollah by
bounds, is there a risk that every day that goes by without a cease-fire
will tip this conflict into a wider war?

And, Mr. President, when Secretary Rice goes back to the region,
will she have any new instructions, such as meeting with Syrians?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Her instructions are to work with Israel and
Lebanon to get a -- to come up with an acceptable U.N. Security Council
resolution that we can table next week. And secondly, it's really
important for people to understand that terrorists are trying to stop
the advance of freedom, and therefore, it's essential that we do what's
right and not necessarily what appears to be immediately popular.

There's a lot of suffering in Lebanon, because Hezbollah attacked
Israel. There's a lot of suffering in the Palestinian Territory because
militant Hamas is trying to stop the advance of democracy.

There is suffering in Iraq because terrorists are trying to spread
sectarian violence and stop the spread of democracy. And now is the
time for the free world to work to create the conditions so that people
everywhere can have hope.

And those are the stakes, that's what we face right now. We've got
a plan to deal with this immediate crisis. It's one of the reasons the
Prime Minister came, to talk about that plan. But the stakes are larger
than just Lebanon.

Isn't it interesting that when Prime Minister Olmert starts to
reach out to President Abbas to develop a Palestinian state, militant
Hamas creates the conditions so that there's crisis, and then Hezbollah
follows up? Isn't it interesting, as a democracy takes hold in Iraq,
that al Qaeda steps up its efforts to murder and bomb in order to stop
the democracy?

And so one of the things that the people in the Middle East must
understand is that we're working to create the conditions of hope and
opportunity for all of them. And we'll continue to do that, Tom.
That's -- this is the challenge of the 21st century.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: It's very obvious what the strategy of
terrorism is, and of the actions that Hezbollah took. Their strategy is
to commit an outrage that provokes a reaction, and then on the back of
the reaction, to mobilize extreme elements, and then try and create a
situation which even moderate people feel drawn to their case. That's
the strategy.

And you, quite rightly, say, well, isn't there a danger that the
Arab street and people in Arab Muslim countries become more sympathetic
to Hezbollah as a result of what's happened? That is their strategy.
How do we counter it? We counter it, one, by having our own strategy to
bring the immediate crisis to an end, which we do. That is what is
important about the Secretary of State visiting the region, getting an
agreement, tabling it to the United Nations, getting the endorsement of
the United Nations, having an international stabilization force to move
into the situation. We've got to deal with the immediate situation.

But then, as the President was saying a moment or two ago, we've
then got to realize what has happened in the past few weeks is not an
isolated incident. It is part of a bigger picture. Now, I'm going to
say some more things about this in the days to come, but we really will
never understand how we deal with this situation unless we understand
that there is a big picture out in the Middle East, which is about
reactionary and terrorist groups trying to stop what the vast majority
of people in the Middle East want, which is progress towards democracy,
liberty, human rights, the same as the rest of us.

Now, that's the battle that's going on. And, yes, it is always
very difficult when something like this happens, as it has happened over
the past few weeks. So we've got to resolve the immediate situation,
but we shouldn't be in any doubt at all, that will be a temporary
respite unless we put in place the longer-term framework.

Q Mr. President, you spoke of having a plan to rebuild houses in
Lebanon. Wouldn't the people of Lebanon rather know when you're going
to tell the Israelis to stop destroying houses?

And, Prime Minister, you've talked of having a plan today, but
isn't the truth that you and the President believe that Israel is on the
right side in the war on terror and you want them to win this war, not
to stop it?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Look, we care deeply about the people whose lives
have been affected in Lebanon, just like we care deeply about the people
whose lives have been affected in Israel. There's over a million people
in Israel that are -- are threatened by this consistent rocket attack
coming out of Lebanon. And, yes, we want to help people rebuild their
lives, absolutely. But we also want to address the root causes of the
problem. And the root cause of the problem is you've got Hezbollah that
is armed and willing to fire rockets into Israel; a Hezbollah, by the
way, that I firmly believe is backed by Iran and encouraged by Iran.

And so for the sake of long-term stability, we've got to deal with
this issue now. Listen, the temptation is to say, it's too tough, let's
just try to solve it quickly with something that won't last; let's just
get it off the TV screens. But that won't solve the problem. And it's
certainly not going to help the Lebanese citizens have a life that is
normal and peaceful.

What is necessary is to help the Siniora government. And one way
to help the Siniora government is to make aid available to help rebuild
the houses that were destroyed. Another way to help the Siniora
government is to implement 1559, which is the disarmament of armed
militia inside his country.

And I -- look, we care deeply about the lives that have been
affected on both sides of this issue, just like I care deeply about the
innocent people who are being killed in Iraq, and people being denied a
state in the Palestinian Territory. But make no mistake about it, it is
the goal and aims of the terrorist organizations to stop that type of
advance. That's what they're trying to do. They're trying to evoke
sympathy for themselves. They're not sympathetic people. They're
violent, cold-blooded killers who are trying to stop the advance of

And this is the calling of the 21st century, it seems like to me,
and now is the time to confront the problem. And of course, we're going
to help the people in Lebanon rebuild their lives. But as Tony said,
this conflict started, out of the blue, with two Israeli soldiers
kidnapped and rockets being fired across the border.

Now, we have urged restraint. We made it clear that we care about
wanton destruction. On the other hand, in my judgment, it would be a
big mistake not to solve the underlying problems. Otherwise everything
will seem fine, and then you'll be back at a press conference, saying,
how come you didn't solve the underlying problems?

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: We feel deeply for people in Lebanon and
people in Israel who are the innocent casualties of this conflict, of
course, we do. And we want it to stop and we want it to stop now. And
what we're putting forward today is actually a practical plan that would
lead to a U.N. resolution, could be early next week, that would allow
it, put in place the conditions for it to stop.

But what we've also got to do is to make sure that we recognize
that this action wasn't simply aimed against Israel, and then Israel
retaliated. It was also aimed against the proper government of Lebanon
being able to control its own country. And the very reason why, two
years ago, the international community passed this resolution was
because people could see that what was going to happen in southern
Lebanon was that these Hezbollah militias, that are armed and financed
by Iran and by Syria, were going to move into the south of the country
in order to be a focus of terrorism and discontent.

Now, that is the fact. And, of course, all of us are appalled at
the destruction and loss of life. Of course, we are. And that's why
we've actually come together today with a viable plan, if people can
agree it, as I believe they can, to get it stopped. But once you stop
this violence happening now

-- which, of course, we should do -- once you do, it doesn't alter the
underlying reality unless we've got a framework that allows us to put
the government of Lebanon properly back in charge of its own country;
unless we've got the commitment to take forward the Israel-Palestine two
state deal, which is there and which everyone wants to see; and then if
we can -- unless we mobilize the international community, to deal with
the threat that Iran poses.

And there's no other way out of this. We're not -- we can, all of
us, make whatever statements we want to do, use whatever words we want
to do, but the brutal reality of the situation is that we're only going
to get violence stopped and stability introduced on the basis of clear

Now, as I say, we've set out a way to do this. But it requires the
long-term, as well as the short-term.

Q Thank you. Mr. President, on the issue of a multinational
force, what shape should it take, who should lead it, who should be part
of it? And also, should Hezbollah agreeing to it be a precondition for
setting up the force?

And, Mr. Prime Minister, you talked about a resolution leading to a
cessation of hostilities, and I'm just wondering, should it include a
call for an immediate cease-fire?

PRESIDENT BUSH: In terms of the troops, that's what the meeting
Monday is going to be about. And this is one of these issues that
requires international consensus, people who put forth ideas, and we'll
participate in terms of trying to help develop a consensus about what
the force ought to look like.

In a general sense, though, the force needs to serve as a
complement to a Lebanese force. See, that's the whole purpose of the
force, is to strengthen the Lebanese government by helping the Lebanese
force move into the area. The whole cornerstone of the policy for
Lebanon is for Lebanon to be free and able to govern herself and defend
herself with a viable force.

And so one of the things you'll see in discussions there is, how do
we help the Lebanese army succeed? What does it -- what's required?
What's the manpower need to be in order to help this force move into the
south so the government can take control of the country. What it looks
like -- if I hold a press conference on Tuesday, I'll be able to answer
that better. But since I probably won't be, read your newspaper.

Q What about Hezbollah --

PRESIDENT BUSH: That's a part of the conditions that they'll be
discussing. That's what they'll be talking about. The key is to have
Lebanon agree with it. And the key is to have Israel agree with it.
Those are the two parties. Hezbollah is not a state. They're a
supposed political party that happens to be armed. Now, what kind of
state is it that has got a political party that has got a militia? It's
a state that needs to be helped, is what that is. And we need to help
the Siniora government deal with a political party that is armed, that
gets its arms and help from other parts of the world -- in order for
Lebanon's democracy to succeed.

A lot has changed in Lebanon. It wasn't all that long ago that
Lebanon was occupied by Syria. And we came together and worked in the
U.N. Security Council, and Syria is now out of Lebanon. But part of the
resolution that enabled Syria to get out was that Hezbollah would
disarm. And if we truly want peace in the region, we've got to follow
through on that 1559, and that's what the whole strategy is. And part
of the peacekeepers will be to -- or the multinational force, whatever
you call them, will be in there trying to help the government.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Just on the international force, the thing
that's very important to realize is that the purpose of it, obviously,
is to help stabilize the situation. But it's also to allow the
government of Lebanon's true armed forces to come down from the north
and occupy the south, themselves. In other words, the purpose of the
force is almost as a bridge between the north and the south in order to
allow the forces of the government of Lebanon to come down and do what
Resolution 1559 always anticipated would happen.

And as for your second question, yes, of course, the U.N.
resolution, the passing of it, the agreeing of it can be the occasion
for the end of hostilities if it's acted upon and agreed upon. And that
requires not just the government of Israel and the government of
Lebanon, obviously, to abide by it, but also for the whole of the
international community to exert the necessary pressure so that there is
the cessation of hostilities on both sides. Now, that will be
important, also, in making it very clear to Hezbollah and those that
back Hezbollah that they have to allow the stabilization force to enter.

But, yes, of course -- look, anybody with any human feeling for
what is going on there wants this to stop as quickly as possible. And
we have a process that allows us to do this, but it's got to be acted
on. It's not just going to be agreed in theory, it's got to be acted
on, too.

Q Thank you. Mr. President, and Prime Minister Blair, can I ask
you both tonight what your messages are for the governments of Iran and
Syria, given that you say this is the crisis of the 21st century?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Want me to start? My message is, give up your
nuclear weapon and your nuclear weapon ambitions. That's my message to
Syria -- I mean, to Iran. And my message to Syria is, become an active
participant in the neighborhood for peace.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: The message is very, very simple to them.
It is that, you have a choice. Iran and Syria have a choice. And they
may think that they can avoid this choice; in fact, they can't. And
when things are set in train like what has happened in Lebanon over the
past few weeks, it only, in my view, underscores the fact they have this
choice. They can either come in and participate as proper and
responsible members of the international community, or they will face
the risk of increasing confrontation.

And coming in and being proper members of the international
community does not mean -- though I would love to see both Syria and
Iran proper democracies -- does not mean to say that we insist that they
change their government or even their system of government, although, of
course, we want to see change in those countries. But it does mean Iran
abides by its obligations under the nuclear weapons treaty. It does
mean that Iran and Syria stop supporting terrorism. It does mean that
instead of trying to prevent the democratically-elected government of
Iraq fulfill its mandate, they allow it to fulfill its mandate.

Now, that's their choice. It's a perfectly simple one. They can
either decide they are going to abide by the rules of the international
community or continue to transgress them. And, look, in the end, that's
the choice that they will have to make. But where I think they make a
strategic miscalculation is if they think that because of all the other
issues that we have to resolve and so on, that we are indifferent to
what they are doing. There will be no side-tracking of our
determination, for example, to make sure that Iran is fully compliant
with the call that's been made on them from the whole of the
international community in respect of nuclear weapons capability. And I
hope they realize there is a different relationship that is possible
with the international community, but only on the basis that has been
set out.

PRESIDENT BUSH: David Gregory.

Q Thank you. Mr. President, both of you, I'd like to ask you
about the big picture that you're discussing. Mr. President, three
years ago, you argued that an invasion of Iraq would create a new stage
of Arab-Israeli peace. And yet today, there is an Iraqi Prime Minister
who has been sharply critical of Israel. Arab governments, despite your
arguments, who have criticized Hezbollah, have now changed their tune.
Now they're sharply critical of Israel. And despite from both of you,
warnings to Syria and Iran to back off support from Hezbollah,
effectively, Mr. President, your words are being ignored. So what has
happened to America's clout in this region that you've committed
yourself to transform?

PRESIDENT BUSH: David, it's an interesting period because instead
of having foreign policies based upon trying to create a sense of
stability, we have a foreign policy that addresses the root causes of
violence and instability.

For a while, American foreign policy was just, let's hope
everything is calm, kind of managed calm. But beneath the surface
brewed a lot of resentment and anger that was manifested in its -- on
September the 11th. And so we've taken a foreign policy that says, on
the one hand, we will protect ourselves from further attack in the
short-run by being aggressive and chasing down the killers and bringing
them to justice -- and make no mistake, they're still out there, and
they would like to harm our respective peoples because of what we stand
for -- in the long-term, to defeat this ideology, and they're bound by
an ideology. You defeat it with a more hopeful ideology called freedom.

And, look, I fully understand some people don't believe it's
possible for freedom and democracy to overcome this ideology of hatred.
I understand that. I just happen to believe it is possible, and I
believe it will happen. And so what you're seeing is a clash of
governing styles, for example. The notion of democracy beginning to
emerge scares the ideologues, the totalitarians, those who want to
impose their vision. It just frightens them, and so they respond.
They've always been violent.

I hear this amazing kind of editorial thought that says, all of a
sudden Hezbollah has become violent because we're promoting democracy.
They have been violent for a long period of time. Or Hamas. One reason
why the Palestinians still suffer is because there are militants who
refuse to accept a Palestinian state based upon democratic principles.

And so what the world is seeing is a desire by this country and our
allies to defeat the ideology of hate with an ideology that has worked
and that brings hope. And one of the challenges, of course, is to
convince people that Muslims would like to be free, that there's other
people other than people in Britain and America that would like to be
free in the world. There's this kind of almost -- kind of weird kind of
elitism, that says, well, maybe certain people in certain parts of the
world shouldn't be free; maybe it's best just to let them sit in these
tyrannical societies. And our foreign policy rejects that concept. We
don't accept it.

And so we're working. And this is -- as I said the other day, when
these attacks took place, I said this should be a moment of clarity for
people to see the stakes in the 21st century. I mean, there's an
unprovoked attack on a democracy. Why? I happen to believe, because
progress is being made toward democracies. And I believe that -- I also
believe that Iran would like to exert additional influence in the
region. A theocracy would like to spread its influence using

And so I'm as determined as ever to continue fostering a foreign
policy based upon liberty. And I think it's going to work, unless we
lose our nerve and quit. And this government isn't going to quit.

Q I asked you about the loss of American influence in the

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, David, we went to the G8 and worked with our
allies and got a remarkable statement on what took place. We're working
to get a United Nations resolution on Iran. We're working to have a
Palestinian state. But the reason why -- you asked the question -- is
because terrorists are trying to stop that progress. And we'll
ultimately prevail, because they have -- their ideology is so dark and
so dismal that when people really think about it, it will be rejected.
They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent
lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good.
They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about,
well, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to
people, don't come and bother us because we will kill you.

And my attitude is, is that now is the time to be firm. And we've
got a great weapon on our side, and that is freedom, and liberty. And
it's got -- those two concepts have got the capacity to defeat
ideologies of hate.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I don't think, actually, it's anything to do
with a loss of American influence at all. I think -- we've got to go
back and ask what changed policy, because policy has changed in the past
few years. And what changed policy was September the 11th. That
changed policy, but actually, before September the 11th this global
movement with a global ideology was already in being. September the
11th was the culmination of what they wanted to do. But, actually --
and this is probably where the policymakers, such as myself, were truly
in error -- is that even before September the 11th, this was happening
in all sorts of different ways in different countries.

I mean, in Algeria, for example, tens and tens of thousands of
people lost their lives. This movement has grown, it is there, it will
latch on to any cause that it possibly can and give it a dimension of
terrorism and hatred. You can see this. You can see it in Kashmir, for
example. You can see it in Chechnya. You can see it in Palestine.

Now, what is its purpose? Its purpose is to promote its ideology
based upon the perversion of Islam, and to use any methods at all, but
particularly terrorism, to do that, because they know that the value of
terrorism to them is -- as I was saying a moment or two ago, it's not
simply the act of terror, it's the chain reaction that terror brings
with it. Terrorism brings the reprisal; the reprisal brings the
additional hatred; the additional hatred breeds the additional
terrorism, and so on. But in a small way, we lived through that in
Northern Ireland over many, many decades.

Now, what happened after September the 11th -- and this explains, I
think, the President's policy, but also the reason why I have taken the
view, and still take the view that Britain and America should remain
strong allies, shoulder-to-shoulder in fighting this battle, is that we
are never going to succeed unless we understand they are going to fight
hard. The reason why they are doing what they're doing in Iraq at the
moment -- and, yes, it's really tough as a result of it -- is because
they know that if, right in the center of the Middle East, in an Arab,
Muslim country, you've got a non-sectarian democracy, in other words
people weren't governed either by religious fanatics or secular
dictators, you've got a genuine democracy of the people, how does their
ideology flourish in such circumstances?

So they have imported the terrorism into that country, preyed on
whatever reactionary elements there are to boost it. And that's why we
have the issue there; that's why the Taliban are trying to come back in
Afghanistan. That is why, the moment it looked as if you could get
progress in Israel and Palestine, it had to be stopped. That's the
moment when, as they saw there was a problem in Gaza, so they realized,
well, there's a possibility now we can set Lebanon against Israel.

Now, it's a global movement, it's a global ideology. And if
there's any mistake that's ever made in these circumstances, it's if
people are surprised that it's tough to fight, because you're up against
an ideology that's prepared to use any means at all, including killing
any number of wholly innocent people.

And I don't dispute part of the implication of your question at
all, in the sense that you look at what is happening in the Middle East
and what is happening in Iraq and Lebanon and Palestine, and, of course,
there's a sense of shock and frustration and anger at what is happening,
and grief at the loss of innocent lives. But it is not a reason for
walking away. It's a reason for staying the course, and staying it no
matter how tough it is, because the alternative is actually letting this
ideology grip a larger and larger number of people.

And it is going to be difficult. Look, we've got a problem even in
our own Muslim communities in Europe, who will half-buy into some of the
propaganda that's pushed at it -- the purpose of America is to suppress
Islam, Britain has joined with America in the suppression of Islam. And
one of the things we've got to stop doing is stop apologizing for our
own positions. Muslims in America, as far as I'm aware of, are free to
worship; Muslims in Britain are free to worship. We are plural

It's nonsense, the propaganda is nonsense. And we're not going to
defeat this ideology until we in the West go out with sufficient
confidence in our own position and say, this is wrong. It's not just
wrong in its methods, it's wrong in its ideas, it's wrong in its
ideology, it's wrong in every single wretched reactionary thing about
it. And it will be a long struggle, I'm afraid. But there's no
alternative but to stay the course with it. And we will.

Q Can I ask you both how soon realistically you think there
could be an end to the violence, given there's no signs at the moment of
1559 being met? I mean, do you think we're looking at more weeks,
months, or can it be achieved sooner than that? And also, will the
multinational force potentially be used to effect a cease-fire, or
simply to police an agreement once we eventually get to that?

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, the answer to the first point is, as
soon as possible. And if we can get the U.N. resolution agreed next
week and acted upon, then it can happen, and it can happen then. We
want to see it happen as quickly as possible, but the conditions have
got to be in place to allow it to happen.

And in relation to the multinational force, what will be -- it's
not going to be the opportunity to fight -- to fight their way in. But
the very way that you posed that question underlines this basic point,
which is, this can only work if Hezbollah are prepared to allow it to
work. And we've got to make sure, therefore, that we have the force go
in as part of an agreement that the government of Lebanon has bound
itself to, the government of Israel has bound itself to, the
international community has bound itself to. And Hezbollah have got to
appreciate that if they stand out against that, then it's not really
that they will be doing a huge disservice to the people of Lebanon, but
they will also, again, face the fact that action will have to be taken
against them.

PRESIDENT BUSH: We share the same urgency of trying to stop the
violence. It's why Condi Rice went out there very quickly. Her job is
to, first and foremost, was to make it clear to the Lebanese people that
we wanted to send aid and help, and help work on the corridors necessary
to get the aid to the Lebanese people. And she's coming back to the
region tonight, will be there tomorrow. I could have called her back
here and could have sat around, visited and talked. But I thought it
was important for her to go back to the region to work on a United
Nations Security Council resolution.

So, like the Prime Minister, I would like to end this as quickly as
possible, as well. Having said that, I want to make sure that we
address the root cause of the problem. And I believe the plan that Tony
and I discussed will yield exactly what we want, and that is addressing
the root cause of the problem.

Thank you all for coming.

1 Comment

As a former soldier I would hate to be caught in the middle of that hornets nest.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on July 28, 2006 2:54 PM.

Jesse Jackson: To meet with Syrian Ambassador was the previous entry in this blog.

Bush: In Miami for GOP fundraiser--and btw--visits National Hurricane Center. Plus Snow on Condi's Mid East swing. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.