Prime Minister Tony Blair
Article for the New York Post
September 20, 2001
New York has always been admired throughout the world.
But that admiration, I can promise you, has never been greater than now. The
courage, resilience and humanity shown by the people of this city over the last
few, dreadful days has inspired us all.
Your profound disbelief, shock and grief at the terrible events of last week
has been shared by all the people of Britain. But we have also watched in wonder
at the way New Yorkers have responded to this catastrophe, at the bravery of
the city's emergency services, of the determination of New Yorkers to do everything
they could to help and at how this whole city and country have pulled together.
The numbers of British dead and missing show what a huge stake our country has
in this city. Many of our citizens live and work here. Thousands of our companies
do business here. I can promise we will work with you to get New York fully
back on its feet as quickly as possible.
It's perhaps wrong to single out any group in a city of heroes and heroines.
But the whole world has witnessed the selfless courage of New York's firefighters
and police who made the ultimate sacrifice to save others - and the determination
of their colleagues, despite danger and exhaustion, to continue the rescue effort.
I would also like to thank the many people in New York and across America, who
at this time of intense national agony, have found time to offer sympathy, support
and help to those British families whose loved ones are dead or missing.
I am coming to New York today to join some of these families at a special church
service. I fear many more grief-stricken families will be traveling across the
Atlantic from Britain in the coming days and weeks.
We don't know yet the exact figure of Britons killed in these despicable attacks.
What we do know is that, despite the lengthy and, at times, savage terror campaign
that has been waged in our country in relation to Northern Ireland, the attack
in New York is by far the worst ever terrorist atrocity against British citizens.
The scale of these losses alone would be reason enough for Britain to stand
shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States in tracking down those behind these
attacks, to bring them to justice and, in the longer term, to dismantle the
whole machinery of terrorism behind them.
But, of course, this is not the only reason. America is our closest ally and
friend. The links between our two peoples are many and close and have been further
strengthened over the last few days. We believe in Britain that you stand by
your friends in times of trial just as America stood by us.
We also realize that what happened last week was not just an unprovoked and
merciless attack on America but a deliberate assault on the whole civilized
world. The targets for the terrorists may have been the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon, but the intention of those who planned these atrocities was to
strike a blow at the values of decency, tolerance and freedom that underpin
our whole way of life.
It's why the decent, civilized countries from across the globe are coming together
to counter the threat to us all from international terrorism.
I fly from New York to Washington for talks with President Bush. I want to pay
tribute to the leadership shown by the president in these most difficult of
times. He has not only helped the American people come to terms with their grief
but, by his patient but determined response to this crime, has enabled the building
of the widest possible coalition to hold to account those responsible and to
destroy their apparatus of terror.
As President Bush himself has said, no one should think this will be an easy
battle to win. We know from our own experience in Britain how difficult it is
to counter terror campaigns. But the scale of the catastrophe last week underlines
why we must not fail.
The terrorists have shown by their total disregard for human life that there
are no moral limits to their actions. We can now see that if they get the chance
to acquire chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, they would not hesitate
to use them.
The immediate goal of the international coalition now being built is to identify
and bring to justice those responsible for the appalling attacks on New York
and Washington. But, in the longer term, we must develop a coordinated and effective
response to international terrorism - how it is financed, how it operates, where
it operates from, who supports and shields it.
This will need the same patience, strength and determination that President
Bush and the American people have shown over the last few days. It is not what
those behind last week's outrages expected nor wanted. They underestimated New
York, they under-estimated the courage and strength of the United States and
they have underestimated the resolve of America and her allies throughout the
world to defeat them.
Crown copyright material reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO.