we face the challenge of terrorist attack, most recently in Bali
again last Saturday, it is our duty to analyze and then determine
the means by which this threat can best be contested. Today, I want
to clarify the values and society which we are defending; identify
the threat with which we have to deal; and set out the central
means by which we need both to contest those who seek to destroy us
and to build the solidarity and determination which we need to
What Are We Defending?
United Kingdom and the United States are both, in common with most
of the developed world, societies which:
- Value and build free speech and freedom of
expression, including free media;
- Believe in a society which respects all
faiths, races, and beliefs;
- Believe in a society founded on the rule
- Want every citizen to have a democratic
stake in our society;
- Value the free economy which has built
- Value the fact that women can play a full
role in our society.
all know that our society, based on these values, will continue to
evolve and develop, and we can all point to aspects of our
societies which fall short of these aspirations. But we also know
that the achievements we do have are based on centuries of struggle
in both your country and mine, of which the American Revolution was
an outstanding example. The societies which we have built, with the
values which they embody, are not slight or passing. They are
deeply rooted and profound.
These values are embraced, both in the
United States and in the United Kingdom, by the overwhelming
majority of our citizens, from whatever faith group or minority
ethnic group they come. Indeed, most of those who have migrated to
our countries have migrated precisely because they want to embrace
our values. So our society is characterized by common values but
diverse backgrounds, faiths, and lifestyles.
has been a stunningly successful model of integration. Compare the
United Kingdom of the 1950s--before significant migration took
place--with the United Kingdom of today. In so many key fields of
life and endeavour--design, literature, food; there are too many to
name--the vibrancy of diversity has powered creativity and economic
success, but always within the framework of our common values.
Moreover, we know that our type of
democratic society has been the ambition which has driven enormous
political and social change over the past 30 years. In that 30
- Fascist or militaristic Greece, Spain, and
Portugal have been succeeded by democracy;
- Apartheid South Africa has been succeeded
- Colonialist Southern Africa has been
replaced by democracy;
- Latin and Central American dictatorship
has been replaced by democracy;
- The whole totalitarian Central and Eastern
Europe has been succeeded by democracy;
- In Southeast Asia, democracy has replaced
perfectly well understand that in each of these parts of the world,
massive problems remain and there are still significant issues
which remain to be addressed. In Africa, for example, the issues
remain acute, which is why the British government placed Africa at
the center of our G-8 agenda.
However, it is the case that these are
absolutely enormous changes in one generation, which proves that
change for the good can happen and, moreover, that it can happen in
very many cases without violence or bloodshed. And the fight for
democracy is at the core of this change.
There will be many different analyses of
the history, but my own view is that the 1945-89 Cold War was
succeeded by the period to 9/11 in 2001, when democracy became
better entrenched, and now, after 2001, all that democratic
progress is under attack from al-Qaeda and their allies.
What Is the Threat?
believe that this is precisely because we have developed a highly
successful model of integration which enables people of all
backgrounds and faiths to prosper and live together within the
safeguard of common values. Our society is itself an affront, and a
reproach, to the ideologues who believe that only their way of
living life is the right one.
make no mistake: The threat we face is ideological. It is not
driven by poverty, or by social exclusion, or by racial hatred.
Those who attacked London in July, those who have been engaged in
terrorist networks elsewhere in the world, and those who attacked
New York in 2001 were not the poor and dispossessed. They were, for
the most part, well educated and prosperous. In the case of
terrorists in the UK, they have also been ethnically and nationally
drives these people on is ideas. And, unlike the liberation
movements of the post-World War II era, these are not political
ideas like national independence from colonial rule, or equality
for all citizens without regard for race or creed, or freedom of
expression without totalitarian repression. Such ambitions are, at
least in principle, negotiable and in many cases have actually been
However, there can be no negotiation about
the re-creation of the Caliphate; there can be no negotiation about
the imposition of Sharia law; there can be no negotiation about the
suppression of equality between the sexes; there can be no
negotiation about the ending of free speech. These values are
fundamental to our civilization and are simply not up for
is equally wrong to claim, as some do, that the motivation of
al-Qaeda and their allies is driven by some desire to seek justice
in the Middle East--the part of the world where progress has been
most difficult to achieve in the past 30 years. I do not accept
that in any respect.
Al-Qaeda and its allies have no clear
demands for the Middle East. In fact, the only common thread in
their approach is a violent and destructive opposition to democracy
in any form.
- They find democracy in Israel abhorrent,
and they seek to destroy it.
- They find democracy in Palestine
abhorrent, and they seek to destroy it.
- They find democracy in Afghanistan
abhorrent, and they seek to destroy it.
- And now they find the democracy in Iraq,
which the United Nations is seeking to support and establish, so
abhorrent that they are resorting to the most vicious and vile
terrorism to do whatever they can to destroy it.
Their methods, too, are different. Because
they recognize no common bonds with people who have different
beliefs, they are prepared to kill indiscriminately. Indeed, mass
murder is their explicit objective, their measure of success in
their terms, and their methods of recruitment bear more comparison
with self-destructive cults than political movements.
fact, the whole approach of al-Qaeda and their like is more akin to
19th century nihilism than to 20th century liberation. But this
modern nihilism is innovative, flexible, and cunning nihilism
because al-Qaeda and the networks inspired by them approach their
task with all the resources of modern technology and all the focus
of modern zealotry.
most important conclusion to draw from this analysis is that there
is not some particular government policy decision, or even some
overall policy stance, which we could change and thus somehow
remove our society from the al-Qaeda firing line. Their nihilism
means that our societies would only cease to be a target if we were
to renounce all those values of freedom and liberty which we have
fought to extend over so many years.
only answer to this threat must be to contest and then to defeat
Contesting the Threat
suggest that the best way to contest this threat is by building and
strengthening the democracy of our society, by isolating extremism
in its various manifestations, by strengthening the legal framework
within which we contest terrorism, and by developing more effective
means to protect our democracy.
First, in each of our societies,
we need to strengthen our democracy. That means promoting a society
which is based upon the true respect of one individual for another,
one culture for another, one faith for another, one race for
another. It means promoting the view that democracy is the means of
making change in our societies, and it means working to strengthen
our democracy so that young people from all communities can see the
ways in which their engagement in our societies can bring about
democratic change and reduce the alienation which can make
individuals prey to those who seek to destroy us.
Britain, we are addressing this by trying to work with all faiths,
including Islam, to build and strengthen the integration of faith
into our national life.
Second, we need to take steps to
isolate extremist organisations and those individuals who promote
extremism. In so doing, it is essential for us to work closely with
the mainstream faith communities and to understand their
our country, we have decided that we need legislation which outlaws
incitement to religious or race hatred and makes it clear that
glorification of terrorism is not a legitimate political expression
of view. We wish to encourage faiths to pursue their faith openly
intend to attack the foci of extremist organization, whether they
be in training camps, in prisons, in bookshops, or in places of
worship. We are working, with international allies where
appropriate, to identify the networks and individuals who are
promoting extremism, and we use legal power to disrupt and weaken
them. We intend to remove from the UK those foreign citizens who
are using their time in our country to promote extremism, though
this course is not legally straightforward.
the international and diplomatic front, I believe that we have to
build our relationships with Muslim countries which oppose
extremism, such as those in North Africa. That is why I so much
welcome the decision of the European Union earlier this week
formally to open admission discussions with Turkey.
of these measures will further isolate and weaken those extremists
who wish to promote terrorism as an appropriate form of
Third, we need to strengthen the
legal framework within which we can address these issues. I assert
throughout all this the need to retrain and strengthen our human
rights and the values which underlie them. But I say at the same
time that the right to be protected from the death and destruction
caused by indiscriminate terrorism is at least as important as the
right of the terrorist to be protected from torture and
believe that our peoples expect not only the protection of
individual rights, but also the protection of democratic values
such as safety and security under the law. We need a legal
framework which seeks to address the difficult balance in these
rights. We cannot properly fight terrorism with one legal hand tied
behind our back, or give terrorists the unfettered right to defend
themselves as they promote and prepare violent attacks on our
that reason, we are proposing legal changes in Britain which outlaw
acts preparatory to terrorism and terrorist training, and we are
asking the European Court of Human Rights to look again at some of
the jurisprudence which has developed in this area.
Fourth, we need, as the U.N.
Security Council recognized last month, to strengthen our ability
to control our borders. That means doing our best to harmonize the
biometric data on passports, visas, ID cards where they exist, and
perhaps even driving licenses. One of the reasons I am in
Washington today is to pursue the discussion between the European
Union and the United States on precisely these matters. There are
difficult issues here, but it is in all of our interests to resolve
is a substantial agenda to contest the threats we face, but I
believe it to be essential for us.
Solidarity and Determination
conclude today by asserting that the single most important weapon
that we have in defending the societies from which we come is our
determination and our solidarity.
Democracy is the strongest form of society
and the most resilient. It is the aspiration of peoples throughout
the world. Through democracy, extremist terrorism will be
must work internationally through the relationship between the
United Kingdom and the United States, through the relationship
between the European Union and the United States, through the G-8,
and through the United Nations.
British government will pursue these ends with determination and
The Right Honorable Charles Clarke, M.P., is Home
Secretary of the United Kingdom.