Their case is that democracy is a western concept we are forcing on an unwilling culture of Islam. The problem we have is that a part of opinion in our own countries agrees with them. — Tony Blair
Greg Sheridan summarized “Blair showed himself yesterday as the most articulate neo-conservative in the world.”
The full-text transcript of Blair’s speech before the Australian Parliament is here. The introduction was typically Blair-eloquent:
This is a world in the course of choosing. Underneath its daily tumult – the stories of strife and sensation that blast their way into our consciousness – we are in struggle of a more profound kind.
Globalisation is a fact.
But the values that govern it are a choice.
We know the values we believe in: democracy and the rule of law; also justice, the simple conviction that, given a fair go, human beings can better themselves and the world around them. These are the values our two countries live by; and others would live by, if they had the chance.
But we believe in more than that. We believe that the changes happening in the world that make it more integrated, the globalisation that with unblinking speed re-shapes our lives, is an opportunity as much as a risk. We are open societies. We feel enriched by diversity. We welcome dynamism and are tolerant of difference.
Left and right still matter hugely in politics and the divergence can sometimes be sharp. But the defining division in countries and between people is increasingly open or closed; open to the changing world or fearful, hunkered down, seeing the menace of it not the possibility.
This is the age of the inter-connected. We all recognise this when it comes to economics, communication and culture. But the same applies to politics.
The struggle in our world today therefore is not just about security, it is a struggle about values and about modernity – whether to be at ease with it or in rage at it.
To win, we have to win the battle of values, as much as arms. We have to show these are not western still less American or Anglo-Saxon values but values in the common ownership of humanity, universal values that should be the right of the global citizen.
This is the challenge.
On the alliance with America Blair said:
Wherever people live in fear, with no prospect of advance, we should be on their side; in solidarity with them, whether in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, North Korea; and where countries, and there are many in the Middle East today, are in the process of democratic development, we should extend a helping hand.
This requires, across the board an active foreign policy of engagement not isolation. It cannot be achieved without a strong alliance. This alliance does not end with, but it does begin with America. For us in Europe and for you, this alliance is central. And I want to speak plainly here. I do not always agree with the US. Sometimes they can be difficult friends to have. But the strain of, frankly, anti-American feeling in parts of European politics is madness when set against the long-term interests of the world we believe in. The danger with America today is not that they are too much involved. The danger is they decide to pull up the drawbridge and disengage. We need them involved. We want them engaged.
The reality is that none of the problems that press in on us, can be resolved or even contemplated without them.
Our task is to ensure that with them, we do not limit the agenda to security. If our security lies in our values and our values are about justice and fairness as well as freedom from fear, then the agenda must be more than security and the alliance include more than America.
Patrick Walters’s headline was “Tony Blair gives lesson in leadership”. On global security, energy and the future of Kyoto:
He also warned against anti-American sentiment, saying the global security agenda required the active participation of the US.
“I do not always agree with the US. Sometimes they can be difficult friends to have,” he said.
“The danger with America today is not that they are too much involved. The danger is they decide to pull up the drawbridge and disengage. The reality is that none of the problems that press in on us can be resolved or even contemplated without them.”
Mr Blair earlier told the Australia-UK leadership forum that the rise of India and China had put the issue of nuclear power back on the agenda as far as the European Union was concerned.
“The emergence of China and India is making a difference, not only to the issue of globalisation but to the question of how we ensure that those countries can grow sustainably but also meet their energy needs.
“There is an immediate question now in a world of more scarce energy supply, to meet the energy needs of those two emerging economies.”