Terrorism, whether it is al Qaeda flying airplanes into buildings filled with innocent civilians, the Taliban blowing up schools and police stations in Afghanistan, al Qaeda in Iraq blowing up civilians in Baghdad, al Qaeda trainees blowing up civilian trains in London or Mumbai, Palestinians in Gaza shooting rockets at civilian targets inside Israel, or Hezbollah attacking across Israel's northern border, killing and abducting Israeli soldiers and firing rockets at Israeli civilians, will not be defeated without peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestinians. This issue, the case for a Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel, is translated by extremists into a battle between East and West, Muslim, Jew and Christian.
Last night I reread British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s magnificent July 17, 2003 address to a joint session of Congress. There is much Blair said three years ago that should be remembered as we continue to prosecute the war against terror.
Blair, reminded us that terrorism is spawned where there is no freedom, where many millions suffer under brutal dictatorships, living in unimaginable poverty nurtured by a fanatical strain of religious extremism.
To eliminate terrorism, Muslims must be able to see Muslim nations still Muslim, but with some hope for the future, not shackled by tyrannical regimes whose principal victims are the very Muslims they pretended to protect.
The Liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban and the Iraq from Saddam's savage regime is the starting point for a new Middle East: Iraq, free and stable; and Syria, made to realize that the world will no longer countenance support for terrorism; the whole region helped toward democracy. And to symbolize it all, the creation of an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian state side by side with the state of Israel.
This struggle against terrorist groups and states is about liberty. The fight is not for domination. We're not fighting for an American world, we're not fighting for Christianity or Judaism, but against religious fanaticism of all kinds. In Blair’s words:
We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind--black or white, Christian or not, left, right or to be free, free to raise a family in love and hope, free to earn a living and be rewarded by your efforts, free not to bend your knee to any man in fear, free to be you so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others.
That's what we're fighting for. And it's a battle worth fighting.
Our love freedom is not a unique product of our culture. Freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are not only American, or Western values, they are the universal values of the human spirit:
Anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack. And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify it around an idea. And that idea is liberty.
We must find the strength to fight for this idea and the compassion to make it universal.
This is why I continue to support the war against terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Israel's campaign against Hezbollah.
A cease-fire in Lebanon is urgently wanted. But it should be a cease-fire under conditions where it can be lasting cease-fire and a step towards a lasting peace and victory over the conditions spawning terrorism. This requires that Hizbullah be reined in.
Hizbullah's founding document calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. Hizbullah's record of terrorist attacks is long: the 1983 bombing of the barracks of U.S. Marines deployed peacekeepers in Beirut to keep the airport open for relief supplies; the bombing of the U.S. Beirut embassy in 1983 and 1984; the hijacking of TWA flight 847 and murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem in 1985; a series of attacks on Israeli targets in Lebanon; the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina in 1992 and of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994. More recently, Hizbullah operatives have plotted to blow up the Israeli embassy in Thailand, and a Lebanese member of Hizbullah was indicted for helping to design the truck bomb that flattened the Khobar Towers U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
Before September 11, 2001, Hizbullah was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist organization. Hassan Nasrallah, the group's secretary-general, recently proclaimed, "Death to America was, is, and will stay our slogan."
The current "crises" stems from Hizbullah's unprovoked attack across Israel's northern border, killing and abducting Israeli soldiers. In 2004 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1559 calling upon Lebanon to disband the military wing of Hezbollah. In 2005, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1583 calling upon Lebanon to exercise its sole and effective authority throughout the south. Again this year the UN Security Council called on Lebanon to make more progress in controlling its territory and disbanding militias. Had Lebanon complied with the UN demands, the present crisis could have been avoided.
The right approach in dealing with the campaign against Hezbollah's terrorism is to work for an urgent but enduring cease-fire in Lebanon, one that can deal with the causes of extremism that began this crisis and that can also lead to the establishment of the sovereignty of the Lebanese government throughout its territory. Anything short of that will simply encourage more violence in the long run.