Tony Blair: 'Britain will be at America's side'

From a speech given by the Prime Minister in College Station, Texas
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The Independent Online

In today's's interdependent world, we need an integrated approach, a doctrine of international community, based on the values we believe in. We shouldn't be shy of giving our actions not just the force of self-interest but moral force.

In reality, at a certain point these forces merge. When we defend our countries as you did after 11 September, we aren't just defending territory. We are defending what our nations believe in: freedom, democracy, justice, tolerance and respect towards others.

What makes America great is not its GDP alone or its military might. It is its freedom, its enterprise, its rejoicing in its different colours and cultures, the fact that someone of humble beginnings can aspire, work hard, succeed and be applauded for their success.

Osama bin Laden's philosophy is not just a security threat to us. It's an assault on our hearts and minds. It represents extremism, cruelty, intolerance of different cultures and lifestyles. It can't be fought just with guns. It must be fought by moderate Islam against extreme Islam, by the virtues of religious and political tolerance triumphing over bigotry. Likewise, what happens in Africa offends every criterion of justice and decency in which we believe.

Fighting for these values is a cause the world needs. The great paradox of our modern world is that we have the unlimited possibility of scientific and technological advance, the prospect of prosperity my father could never have dreamed of as a child. Yet we also have the capacity to destroy ourselves. The interdependence we have, can be for good or ill. What makes the difference is the values that govern it.

All this has been latent in world politics for some time. 11 September brought it into sharp relief. When an event of such magnitude occurs only a fool fails to reflect and consider. It does change everything.

For America, it has laid bare the reality. American power affects the world fundamentally. It is there. It is real. It is never irrelevant. It can affect the world for good or affect it for bad. Stand aside or engage, it never fails to affect.

You know I want it engaged. Under President Bush, I am confident it will be and for good. But if that's what I and many others want, it comes at a price for us too. It means we don't shirk our responsibility. It means that when America is fighting for those values, then, however tough, we fight with her. No grandstanding, no offering implausible but impractical advice from the comfort of the touchline, no wishing away the hard not the easy choices on terrorism and WMD, or making peace in the Middle East, but working together, side by side.

That is the only route I know to a stable world based on prosperity and justice for all, where freedom liberates the lives of every citizen in every corner of the globe. If the world makes the right choices now – at this time of destiny – we will get there. And Britain will be at America's side in doing it.

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