UK, Australian Leaders Vow Attacks Won't Sidetrack Terror War Support
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2005 British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard condemned today's terrorist incidents in London during a joint news conference and insisted that the extremists won't succeed in derailing their countries' support for the global war on terror.
British Metropolitan Police confirmed explosions on three subways and a bus in London today, exactly two weeks after the July 7 bombings that killed more than 50 people. Details of today's incidents were still unfolding, but no fatalities were reported, Blair said.
Blair and Howard, who were meeting in London when the attacks occurred, affirmed their mutual commitment to defeating terrorism, including support for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"We remain committed in both cases. Afghanistan is an important battleground against terrorism, and so is Iraq," Howard said. "And nobody should imagine that the terrorists would be other than absolutely delighted if there were a faltering of will in Iraq."
The Australian leader was unequivocal in declaring that terrorists would never force his country to abandon its role in the global war on terror. "Once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it has given the game away," Howard said. "And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen."
Blair affirmed Great Britain's commitment to the same principle and warned his countrymen against any tendency to think they brought the incidents on themselves. "What (terrorists) want us to do is turn around and say, 'Oh, it's our fault,' Blair said. "The people who are responsible for the terrorist attacks are the terrorists." The prime minister urged Londoners to return to normalcy as quickly as possible as a sign of defiance to the terrorists.
"(We) know what these people are trying to do," he said. "And that is to intimidate people and to scare them, to frighten them, to stop them from going about their normal business." So it's "important that we keep to our normal lives" because "to do otherwise is in a sense to give them the very thing they are looking for," he said.
But fighting terrorism won't be easy or quick, he acknowledged. "The roots of this are deep," with terrorist attacks going back more than 10 years, he said. "This evil, bankrupt ideology based on a perversion of Islam with terrorism ... is something that has built up over a period of time. (And) it will have to be dismantled over a period of time."
The best way to do so, he said, "is to show how the values of freedom and tolerance and respect for the people of other religions and races is the best way to lead our lives."
"Ultimately, the values that we represent are the values that will triumph," he said. The leaders delivered their remarks shortly after Vice President Richard B. Cheney told an audience of veterans and Department of Veterans Affairs employees today about the challenges of the war on terror.
"We have no illusions about the difficulty of engaging enemies that dwell in the shadows, target the innocent and recognize neither the laws of warfare nor standards of morality," Cheney said during an observance of the 75th anniversary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"We cannot predict the length or course of the war on terror," the vice president said. "Yet we know with certainty that this great nation will persevere and that we will prevail."