08/09/2011 Question Time


David Dimbleby is joined Liam Fox, David Miliband, Richard Perle, Tariq Ali, Bonnie Greer and Christina Schmidt, whose husband was killed in Afghanistan.

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Ten years ago nearly 3,000 people were killed in one morning in a


terrorist attack in the United States and we're still living with


the consequences. Tonight with our audience in this special programme


we debate the aftermath of 9/11. With me here at the headquarters of


the London Scottish Regiment in London, the Defence Secretary, Liam


Fox. Labour's former Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. Richard


Perle at the heart of defence planning under President Bush, a


staunch advocate of ousting Saddam Hussein. Bonnie Greer, playwright,


born in Chicago and lives in the United Kingdom and the author and


Thank you very much. Well, let's have our first question. It is from


Kieran Falconer, please. What should America have done after


9/11? What should America have done after 9/11?


Liam Fox. It should have really he responded I think in much the same


way as the Al-Qaeda threat coming from Afghanistan. It is quite


difficult even ten years on to remember the shock that 9/11 caused.


I was actually in New York just a few days later and I can remember


very vividly how that felt and the shock that Americans felt that an


attack happened on their own soil and then of course, there was the


issue that the Taliban Government in Kabul would not hand over those


that were responsible for the planning and the execution of the


9/11 attack and then I think what happened after that was inevitable


that the international community as they did would decide to overthrow


the Government in Kabul and to ensure that it did not become again


a breeding ground for that sort of terrorist attack.


And Iraq was inevitable too? think Iraq was different. I think


that the arguments about Afghanistan were much more clear


cut. I think the reason that you ended up with 49 countries taking


part in ISAF which we have in Afghanistan.


Bonnie Greer. What should America have done? I made a film for the


BBC about two months after 9/11. We went back to my hometown of Chicago


and we went to New York City. I live not far from Ground Zero. At


that time the people I spoke to were, of course, understandably


upset, angry. A lot of people wanted revenge, but the majority of


people really wanted to understand what the United States was in the


world. They didn't understand what the United States could represent


or be to people in the world. That this kind of thing could have


happened. So this group of people that I spoke to were people who


wanted to ask questions. They weren't thinking about attacks.


They weren't thinking about going after anybody. They just wanted to


understand. But that is a reaction you got in


Chicago. But what do you think the American Government should have


done? What it did or something different? The American Government,


absolutely the American Government should have actually dealt with


this in a way, as a homicide as far as I'm concerned first of all. The


problem of New York for instance, New York I don't think even got an


investigation about this for a long, long time. There should have been


more deliberation than there was and it didn't happen.


OK, Richard Perle, was it inevitable American acted as it


did? Yes, I think we did pretty much what needed to be done in the


aftermath. We asked the Taliban Government to turn Osama Bin Laden


over, they refused. We waited a full 30 days before taking any


military action. Then we worked with the Northern Alliance, which


was the anti-Taliban group and the Taliban were quickly dispatched.


The Taliban regime had become a haven for Osama Bin Laden and other


terrorists. They had sanctuary, they had shelter, they had


facilities with which to organise and to recruit and one result of


that was 3,000 people killed in New York, including more Britons than


died on 7/7 in the terror attack here so I think what we did was


what needed to be done. OK. Tariq Ali. In my opinion and I


argued this at the time, what took place was a crime carried out by a


group of terrorists and that what the United States should have done


was to have searched and found these terrorists and tried them in


an open court of law as happens when other terrorists carry out


attacks on other country, not forgetting the IRA attacks on


Britain. The British Government, not being a large impearl country -


- imperial country did not go and bomb places in the the public. I


think that way of handling it would have been better. Instead what we


have got is a ten year long war and the group of people people you were


searching left that country two weeks before American troops


arrived in Afghanistan and fled as was expected.


APPLAUSE If this was a crime, if this was a


homicide, what does going into Iraq have to do with catching the


killer? Well, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. I think 9/11 was a


day of shock, but also of incredible international unity. I


would like to have seen the American Government lead a drive in


three areas, first of all, I think there was a possibility to rally a


new kind of coalition between the West and the Muslim world. Secondly,


I think there needed to be a regional solution in South Asia.


Anyone who knows anything about Afghanistan knows its problems can


been separated from those of Pakistan. Thirdly, it needed to


dedicate itself to use that opportunity to build the kind of


rules based international order. One other thing David which is


really important. The words, "War on terror" should never have been


uttered. That was a terrible statement.


APPLAUSE Why? Because they unified a series


of desperate grievances and under Osama Bin Laden's banner. It


glorified the people who did 9/11 as warriors and it allowed people


to argue that it was the West versus the Muslim world and that's


why it was very dangerous. APPLAUSE


I don't understand how it can be said that the best way to deal with


violence is to enforce greater violence. I mean that is not a


constructive way to deal with terrorism.


Could I go back to my homicide point? I am talking about homicide


in the early days. My brother, who was in the services at the time, on


the day of 9/11, thought that a homicide had been committed


actually in revenge for the execution of Tim McVeigh three


months before this had happened. People had all kinds of theories


and they thought homicide at first. Not war. And that was changed.


Richard Perle, David Miliband said Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.


Is that your view too? Yes. Iraq would have happened without


9/11? No, Iraq would not have happened under a variety of


circumstances. 9/11 made American officials responsible for the


safety of our citizens. Acutely conscious of the danger that


another attack with weapons of mass destruction could dwarf 9/11 in


terms of the casualties and so emead immediately following 9/11


they did what, I think, was a logical thing to do. They made a


list of all the places of where weapons of mass destruction might


be obtained and Iraq, of course, was on that list. It turns out that


the intelligence was wrong. We know that now, but at the time, if you


were the President and you asked yourself, "what can I do to prevent


an attack with weapons of mass destruction?" You would have gone


after the places where weapons of mass destruction could be found and


as it happens Saddam Hussein was in violation of so many United Nations


resolutions. Someone is talking, well in fact David, you were


talking about a rule-based system. How many resolutions did the UN


pass condemning Saddam Hussein? So that's your rule-based system. It


just didn't work. Well, I think that the...


APPLAUSE It is quite staggering that in this


day and age someone can still bring up weapons of mass destruction.


APPLAUSE He was saying at the the time, not


now. But even at the time there were many people within the


American intelligence agencies arguing that there were no weapons


of mass destruction. In the British intelligence like wise. People were


arguing there were no weapons of mass destruction and they were told


to find the evidence so that this war could be fought and it was a


criminal war, a breach of sovereignty, up to a million people


have died. The Iraqi, this Iraqi Government says they have five


million orphans and no one cares. We talk about casualties, but we


don't care about the number of Iraqis.


APPLAUSE A criminal war is what Tariq Ali


says. To go back to the point about violence. It would be nice if we


could resolve any conflicts in the world by conversation, but I am


afraid there are elements of violent fanaticism in the world


that we would rather were not there, but they are and they have to be


dealt with. That's unfortunate, but it is true. When you opened, David,


you mentioned the point, that was the beginning of a ten year process.


I think we get to the end of this ten years and at the beginning it


was being portrayed in parts of the Muslim world that the legitimate


aspirations of many of the world's Muslims would be achieved through


violence and Jihad and we've got to the end of the decade and we see


the legitimate as per rations are achieved in tie here square.


In Afghanistan it was a clear and legal response as to what happened


on 9/11 article 5 of NATO was in vote because the United States had


been attacked. I think that in Iraq we have to remember that at the


time as Tony Blair had said in the House of Commons and I remember


watching with great interest in the House that night that it wasn't


just that there were accusations of weapons of mass destruction, but


Saddam Hussein had refused to allow international inspectors in and had


refused to allow that to happen. It turned out not to be correct and a


lot of people will feel angry and disappointed about it, but that's


how it seemed at the time. Man in the second row.


Irregardless of the fact of weapons of mass destruction, Saddam


violated 19 different resolutions of the Security Council. How will


the United Nations remain relevant if it doesn't stand up to the


resolutions? Bonnie Greer. The reason the United


Nations exists is because it is a community of people who have


decided to come together to hold the peace and to promote that in


the world. The United States of America's job was to make sure that


coalition of that organisation were able to do that together. The


United States didn't do that. It moved and it shouldn't have.


APPLAUSE Bonnie, I really think that is


unfair. You know the United Nations came together in theory to act


against threats to the peace. The Soviet Union was a member of the


Security Council and had a veto. The Soviet Union was not interested


in stopping some threats to the peace so you could never get


unanimity with the one exception on the occasion with which... I didn't


say unanimity. The UN system you have tofu namity.


Richard Perle, you said that the war was illegal, that it was


outside international law, but the action had to be taken, it didn't


I know the quotation you're referring to. It's not accurate.


What's accurate? The lawyers argued about whether an additional United


Nations' resolution was necessary or not. Some believed it was not. I


share those - the view that it was not necessary to have yet another


resolution, and Tony Blair, who I think led this country


magnificently in that period - you should be grateful for his


leadership... We're not. BOOING


I think Tony Blair wanted another UN resolution. I think that was a


terrible tactical mistake because we really didn't need it. You, sir.


We talk about weapons of mass destruction, but who armed Saddam


with the weapons of mass destruction? It was the United


States. No, no. OK. And the gentleman up there at the back. I


come to you in the middle, yes. think Richard Perle is


contradicting himself. On one hand he's talking about a measured


approach, the fact that we made this list of countries that had


WMDs. Wasn't this about one thing and one thing only - regime change?


First of all, it would not be the first time I contradicted myself,


but in this case it was not about regime change. I was in favour of


changing the regime because Saddam Hussein was a brutal masochistic


tyrant who murdered tens of thousands - actually hundreds of


thousands of people - who had every intention of handing the regime


over to his sons who, arguably, were even worse, but we would not


have gone into Iraq if Saddam had presented convincing evidence that


he did not possess weapons of mass destruction, and he failed to do


that. You would have liked to have had him overthrown regardless - you


have been arguing since the late 'niemts. Yes, but what I'd always


argued is that we should do it by political means by working with his


internal opponents. We can't do that, so we had no option. But Paul


Wolfowitz said, who you know well, said when asked about weapons of


mass destruction said this was the only thing we could all agree on,


so it was convenient as an excuse. The woman in the centre. We go on


to another question. Would the panel agree with 9/11 that America


used what happened to hype the capabilities and the intelligence


of Al-Qaeda, as Tariq mentioned earlier, with the IRA, in


comparison, there wasn't this - as much hype and everything with the


IRA - sorry. I can't even speak. You mean Al-Qaeda wasn't the kind


of threat that it was made out to be? Exactly. Do you agree with


that? I think the lady is making an important point. You agree with


her? I don't think it was hype, but I think it's important to recognise


now that 9/11 looks like the high point of Al-Qaeda. It didn't look


like that at the time, though, and remember, 11 airliners could have


been blown up over the Atlantic in 2006. They were foiled by very


careful intelligence, so even to the present day there are people


trying to commit murder and mayhem on our streets and on the streets


throughout the Middle East, however - and in parts of Africa as well,


so I don't think it was hype. However, in retrospect, I think you


can now see - and hindsight is not something you're blessed with in


politics - but you can see as a matter of analysis that certainly


after the bombing of the Jordan wedding in 2005 when 55 Muslims


were killed by Al-Qaeda, but actually even further back than


that - the high point was probably 2001. One other point, though, it's


not the IRA. This is a bigger and more different threat than the IRA.


We had experience of the IRA, but they did not propagate a global


vision. They did not have the kind of global reach and the theological


basis that Al-Qaeda tried to engage with, and that's one further reason


why - be wary of the words like "hype". This was different. It was


dangerous. It had shown its potential in the '90s in a series


of incidents, so those who were on red alert in those days were


absolutely right to be on red alert. APPLAUSE


I thought we'd come to it later, perhaps, but it's clearly relevant


from what you have said. You talk about the 11 planes whose bombing


was prevented by information, which it's generally accepted was


obtained by torture. No. Well, by water boarding techniques. No, I'm


sorry. That - that is just not right, David. Look, there are a


million people watching this programme. Dick Cheney says that in


his book which was published today. Look, the British - unusually, the


British Government - not when I was in office, but when President Bush


said this at a book launch of his in I think Texas - the British


Government put out a statement saying that this was not the case,


and it is an absolutely fundamental principle... How do you know it


wasn't the case? You say the British Government was not involved


in torture. Correct. Fair enough, but information reaches you. You


don't know how... What I would say to you is this case has been made


by the hard right of American politics and the hard right of the


administration, and what they have said is you, in Europe, in Britain,


you'll never countence in water boarding in Britain. I think it's


right that it's abhorrent to legally torture people. They will


say, well, we got the information from Sheik Mohammed with regard to


the 2006 bombings. Right all sorts of information has come out from


all sort of sources, it's not the case that that came out as a result


of torture. Where there is reliable evidence bearing on threats, it


would not be right to reject it out of hand, however it had been


obtained? The classic ticking time bomb issue is, if you find out


there is a bomb on the tube, do you act on it or not? It's different as


far as I am concerned in national and international law never mind


morally reprehensible. One other point because I thought about this


at all - John McCain is not on my point of the political spectrum but


he said, when you start talking about torturing people, you're


actually harming us more than them, and you're putting our values and


what we stand for in grave danger, and I agree with him.


APPLAUSE We're talking tonight about the


consequences of 9/11, and clearly this issue is one of them. I'll go


to the man up there, then Dr Liam Fox and Tariq Ali. Yes, you, sir.


Yes, we have heard a lot about what Al-Qaeda have done and what the


threat is. But what we haven't heard about is why have they done


it? What are their grievances? Can we address those grievances?


Wouldn't that be the better way forward? Tariq Ali. The grievances


- look, all terrorist groups, whatever their origins, whether


they're 19th centuryar anarchists, whether they're 20th century glups


Germany and Italy in the '60s have their grievances. That is not a


problem, and this group did. Its grievances, if you read Bin Laden's


texts are very clear - that my world is occupied by your countries


and their troops. The question is many Arab people have these


grievances, but this is not the way they go and fight them. There are


other ways of doing it. It is a fact the grievences are there. It


is not even the case these grievances are recognised because


people talk about the United Nations passing resolutions against


Saddam Hussein. The United Nations has passed resolutions against


other countries as well, including Israel, including the right of the


Palestinians to self-determination. They have passed resolutions on


India and Kashmir. Which resolutions are taken up is


actually determined by the United States, which is why I say that


this form of selective vigilantism doesn't work. It ends up badly, as


we saw in Iraq, and as we're now watching in Afghanistan and


probably Libya too. Can I bring you back to the torture issue, Dr Liam


Fox? First of all, I very much agree with David on this question -


what we do says who we are, and we have to apply our own ethics and


values, but on this question of grievances, let's be very careful


about moral equivalents here. What sort of grievance and what sort of


response to any grievance is it to fly aeroplanes into heavily


populated buildings? Ing I agree. APPLAUSE


And as for this idea that the response to what was mass murder


was some sort of American hype, this was one area where the United


Nations did act together, where the United Nations came together and


sanctioned the creation of ISAF, where we have 49 countries still


there today, so let's not be misled by the rewriting of that particular


history. This was a savage, vicious murder by people who had absolutely


no reason to do so. Right. Hold on. What do we do now? It's ten years


of the war in Afghanistan as well. This is what we'll move on, to but


before I do take another question, just to say, if you're on Twitter


I would like to take a question from Rizwana Ahmed, please. I would


like to ask, what evidence is there that engaging in costly wars in


Iraq and Afghanistan has actually ensured the safety of the average


British person? Have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ensured the


safety of the ordinary British citizen? Bonnie Greer? Well, that


was what we were sold when the Prime Minister of the day, Tony


Blair, stood up and said that we were in eminent danger from weapons


of mass destruction. I remember that vividly, and one million


people came out on the streets of this country and said, "Not in my


name", and they were completely ignored by the Government of the




So that is a valid question, and the question on the floor tonight


is, what is the - what is the aftermath of what happened? And we


mustn't get away from that, because what you're asking is a very


important question. What does it have to do with me? Does it make my


life safer on the street? And I believe that the former head of MI5


has said in her lectures that in fact - she said before we went in


that we wouldn't actually endanger the homeland - the United Kingdom -


if we took this action. She said that, and she's saying it and


saying it and saying it. Did you - David Miliband did, you get that


information from MI5 which Baroness bullingham Manor has made public?


Not in that way. She said the war was likely to increase the domestic


threat. No, I was the junior Education Minister at the time, so


she certainly didn't say it to me. The golden rule for this is let's


not put Iraq and Afghanistan in the same sentence. Tariq is raising a


very important point, ten years in Afghanistan. My own view is it was


essential to oppose the Taliban from Kabul. I think there was a


tragic mistake in late 2002 when in the south-east of Afghanistan those


who were many Taliban supporters had a choice - could they come into


the political system, or would they be driven out? I am afraid the new


constitution Afghanistan adopted led to them being driven out. The


peace conference of 2002 was a conference only for the victors.


That was a terrible error. They went into Pakistan. They regrouped.


In 2005, they were back attacking our troops in Helmand province, so


the Afghan story is a story in my view that should have been done by


the politics, not the military. In a counter-insurgency it's 20%


military, 80% politics. Iraq is a different story. We can come to


that and debate it. But there is a pressing issue today which is, how


is the Afghan conflict brought too a close? Hang on a second. We must


chair this. The question you were actually asked is has what you have


done in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past ten years, and I quote, "done


anything to ensure the safety of the ordinary British citizen?"


There is no question Al-Qaeda central, as it's called, is much


weaker than ten years ago. That is a fact. Al-Qaeda's core ability to


project violence around the world is less than it was ten years ago.


It is partly because of military operations, but also partly because


millions of Muslims around the world have embraced global reform


not Jihad as a way to express their interests. As a people I think


we're safe only at the cost of our soldiers that have been sent in to


do the job. I think the fact they have done a magnificent job doesn't


hide the fact they were sent in underequipped. We have to thank


them for the job the politicians talk about. I thank the soldiers


for doing it. We're safe because of them. Dr Liam Fox - the point that


they were sent in underequipped, and then do you believe that...




And was what has happened - what they have done - made this place


safe? Has it made - not just us, but the world, safer? Yes, it has.


I believe point was made at the outset 2001 was in fact the high


point of Al-Qaeda. There is a reason why. That was the action we


took as a consequence. It wasn't just what happened in Manhattan on


9/11. Remember the Madrid train bombings. Remember what happened to


the USS Cole and the bombings in Kenya? All of these were a pattern.


Al-Qaeda was going to launch more attacks on the West. More innocent


people were going to die. More 9/11s were going to happen. It was


the duty of the Government at the time - it was the duty of the


United Nations to act to protect the people from what was the wider


threat. In terms of what happened in Afghanistan, you could have a


very long debate about it, but I think that you've - roughly, it


falls into three parts - 2001-2006, what happened between 2006 and 2009


and what happened after that, and I think for a long period of that we


were underequipped. There was an insufficient troop density on the


ground, and we miscalculated as a Western community through ISAF I


think exactly how creative and how resilient some of the elements of


the Taliban could be, and I think that we paid a price in the later


years for the military You, sir.


Three things. One is about the UN resolutions. Is it on record to be


the worst, the worst country to defy UN resolutions. If there is


any record to disprove that, please let me know. Secondly, the issue


was about Afghanistan, but the international community ended up


going down to Iraq first before going to Afghanistan. We remember


the Tora Bora issue involving Osama Bin Laden, if they placed more


boots on the ground in Afghanistan, by now we would not be talking


about the the Taliban at all. We would have got rid of them and


everything, but we forgot about them and went to Iraq. Why? Because


there was something personal about Iraq and the Republicans.


Can we come back to the question about safety? Do you think this


country is safer? Absolutely, not. We are not safer because of what


we've done and I would say that - Muslims are not safe because of


what has happened. To be an ordinary person, to be an ordinary


Muslim in this country and the United States is not a safe thing.


The question is who are we and we are not all safe. No, we are not.


In what way is it not a safe thing to be a Muslim in this country?


is almost a dirty word in the United States right now. One of the


problems that Barack Obama had at the beginning is that people


thought that he was a Muslim. Nobody questioned the fact that you


are using the word Muslim as a pejorative. Muslim equates violence.


The holy religion of Islam is seen as something that has some kind of


inhereant core of violence within it. That's the legacy of what has


happened. You can't be a Muslim. It is very, very difficult to be them


and that to me, when we talk about are we safer? I am asking who are


we, Muslims are not safe for one thing.


APPLAUSE Is it true about America? First on


the general question of whether we are safer, it has been said and I


think correctly that Al-Qaeda and elements associated with it are


weaker now, far weaker than they were ten years ago. We have not had


the kind of massive attack that they had in mind for us and they


were planning new attacks even as 9/11 took place and they were


planning them if I can say it again, if they could obtain them with


weapons of mass destruction so the threat was and I'm afraid remains


significant. Now every Government I know, every western Government,


every democracy has gone to enormous lengths to make it clear


that our problem with radical Islamist terrorists does not extend


to Muslims in general. Every president has said it again and


again. Every Prime Minister has said it again and again and I


really think it is unfair... Richard, you are a student of human


nature. You understand how human beings work. You can say that with


one side of your face and the other side you are sending out all kinds


of signals about it that are the opposite. I promise you on the day,


because I used to live around the area in which the World Trade


Center went down, I know people women who used to wear veils were


told to take your scarf off. Don't wear your cap. Are you surprised by


this after 3,000 people died in New York as a result of those attacks?


Yes, I am. I am. I am surprised that a whole group of people can be


sort of picked off and said this person, this person and this person


is an enemy. Yes, I am. APPLAUSE


Two responses to that, David. One did it make life more difficult for


ordinary people in say Britain or the United States? I think it did


because there is absolutely no doubt that British foreign policy


under Tony Blair in particular was such that it created a lot of anger


amongst Muslim communities in the northern part of the country and


all the reports, the Royal Institute of International Affairs


Report, private intelligence reports which were later leaked,


said it was British foreign policy that radicalised these kids, it was


not religion. That was very concrete. The second thing that


happened and this is also a consequence of 9/11 that despite


all the politicians saying, "We are not going to let the terrorists


change our way of life." They did. People were arrested without trial.


There are people in Britain still locked up for 11 years without


being tried. Guantanamo Bay, which Obama said he was going to close


dournings he release -- down, he released fewer people than Bush did.


We live in almost a post-legal State and the third thing is a big,


big increase in what is called Islamophobia, just hostility to


Muslims in general which has been stopped, not just by the wars, but


which has to a certain extent been halted, not completely, by the huge


uprisings in the Arab world for democratic rights, not just against


people like Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi. Gaddafi was a close ally


of the Blair Government, but in countries like Egypt where


dictatorships had been kept going by the United States with their


money and countries like Saudi Arabia which are still kept going


and I never believed, I never believed, I never believed that a


majority of the Muslim population ins all the Muslim world were in


anyway sympathetic to terrorism, it is a tiny, tiny minority as


terrorists always are and when given the chance they demonstrated.


Tariq, if you keep on talking about the the Arab Spring as you have,


you will be be be labelled a neoconservative.


David Miliband. Let me tell you the word that is use add lot when I


talk to Muslim constituents. The word they throw at mo is thip -- me


is hip pobg ras ci -- hypocrisy. They say you talk about Human


Rights, but what about Guantanamo Bay, they say that. They also say


you talk about UN resolutions, but what about Israel/Palestine. People


in my position have to accept that those things are said and that's


why I think it is right to be as clear as we can about the


centrality of the Human Rights challenge that we now face in the


wake of 9/11, but secondly, Israel/Palestine did not cause 9/11.


That is a really wrong thing to say, but if they are interested in


puncturing this allegation, we have to accept that the greatest


diplomatic failure in 40 years is the failure to resolve


Israel/Palestine. If we want to show our seriousness we have to


tackle the Israel/Palestine issue and make sure there is a State they


can call home. APPLAUSE


One of our audience has a question. It is Chad Davis.


My question for the panel. Is the root cause of terrorism the


Israeli/Palestine problem? If so, would Osama Bin Laden have


cancelled his 9/11 plans if plinth had been -- President Clinton had


been able to broker peace in the Middle East? No, I don't think so.


We have to be careful about playing into the Osama Bin Laden argument


that this was about religion. That this was anything to do with Islam


or the liberation or the people of the Islamic world. Osama Bin Laden


was about a violent anti-western political philosophy. It had


nothing at all to do with religion. Religion is seldom the problem. It


is when religion is used as the excuse for violence or the


oppression of people is used for political motives in the name of


religion. Henley jit mat expression is used using religion as the tool.


That is where the problem lies. It does not lie with religion itself.


Can you answer the question? don't think it would be. There is a


terribly simplistic view if you solve that one problem, everything


else will fall domino like into place. Yes, of course, it is a


problem that is used by countries in the region, most notably I would


say at the moment Iran to continue to whip up what it wants in terms


of its own foreign policy support. There is no doubt if we got a


solution to the Israeli/Palestine problem it would take away a great


propaganda tool, as well as being a major improvement. I don't think we


should be naive to believe if you take away that one problem people


like Osama Bin Laden who hate us because of who we are would


actually go away. APPLAUSE


Richard Perle. The dispute between Israelis and Palestinians is only


going to be solved when Israelis and Palestinians find a solution.


We can't do it. The United Kingdom can't do it. It has got to be done


by them and that's what the UN has mandated going back to the to the


aftermath of the 1967 war. I heard a couple of references to Israel


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 141 seconds


Jeev got a question from Iain Church, who happens to be a bomb


disposal officer. The war on terror is unwinnable. Our negotiations


with Al-Qaeda, inevitable to ensure a satisfactory end to the war on


terrorism? Dr Liam Fox? Not Al- Qaeda, but I think it's reasonable


to make the assumption that you'll not solve the problem in


Afghanistan today by military means alone. I know very few people who


believe that to be true. The question is who do you talk to and


about what? I think you therefore have to look for the people who are


reconcilable to the idea in the Afghan constitution in the way the


country is moving and how it relates to the countries in the


region and the wider world. Hopefully, events are moving in


that direction. In Helmand, just to take a tiny example where our


forces are, we have seen a big reduction in violence levels


throughout this year. We have seen a 25% reduction. It does tend to


suggest the counter-insurgency rather than a purely


counterterrorist strategy is beginning to reap some rewards.


if successive British Governments were willing to talk to the IRA are


they not willing to talk to, if they can find Al-Qaeda, whatever it


may be, to talk to Al-Qaeda? question is not whether we are. The


question is whether the Afghan Government is. It has to be an


Afghan-Government-led process. We're there. We have said we'll


support them. If they're able to find elements of, let's call them,


the former Taliban, who are willing to cooperate with the sort of


direction the people of Afghanistan and the Government want to talk,


then they should engage with them. There has always to be a political


solution to any insurgency and any conflict, but finding the people


who are willing to do that is a difficult job, and we have also to


I think accept that there will be some people who will always be


irreconcilable, and that that will continue to provide a threat to


stability... Do you want to come back on that? I think the war on


terror is broader than Afghanistan. Richard Perle made the point that


Al-Qaeda still pose a significant threat across the world. If that's


the case, then surely it's broader than Afghanistan, and therefore,


what are we going to do to talk to Al-Qaeda operatives that perhaps


aren't operating in the north-west of Pakistan or Afghanistan and


maybe somewhere else? Tariq Ali. Look, don't confuse two things -


the actual Al-Qaeda grouping itself according to virtually every report


- public and official - one hears of is reduced, greatly reduced in


size, so don't conflate that with the insurgency in Afghanistan. It's


not the same thing. The insurgency in Afghanistan now includes not


just some remnants of the old Taliban, but many, many new people,


which is why people call it the new Taliban, and, you know, this isn't


talked about much in polite society, but over the last six years, the


NATO governments, some of them, have been negotiating and


discussing with these people and asking them whether they're


prepared to join national government, to which they reply,


"We will, but only after all foreign troops have left," secondly,


you cannot have a stable government in Afghanistan, in my opinion,


unless some of the neighbouring countries are involved both


financially, economically to try to guarantee the stability, and


whether you like it or not, this includes Pakistan. This includes


Iran. This includes Russia. In includes China. These are countries


that have to be involved, and there should be a withdrawal of Western


troops. Otherwise, it's a disaster story. You have a corrupt


Government which represents nobody. Its people are targeted at will by


the insurgents regularly all over the country, and everyone knows


that militarily this war cannot be won, so a political solution is


necessary, and the political solution which should happen should


involve the neighbouring powers to create a national government. This


country has been at war now since 1979 - ten years of the Russians,


then civil war in Afghanistan between rival factions and now ten


years of NATO. Take pity on them. The woman there in the fourth row


from the back. What's just been said is basically that there needs


to be negotiations. You know, shooting terrorists and looking for


the Taliban to destroy them, you know, there's the problem of


actually increasing the problem because of the hatred and the


revengeful feelings that come from loved ones being killed. You know,


we can dismiss what they're saying - I'm not saying I agree with the


behaviour at all. I don't, but at the end of the day, this is the way


they are, and if we don't try to get past that and actually try to


get the people talking that can, like in the Middle East - what do


the Middle East want in general? You know, do they want the bringing


down of the Taliban? Do they want to come against bad Western


feelings? We've got to establish hue the Middle East feel about it


and what they feel can be done about it. Can I just first of all


thank the gentleman who spoke before you did? I'm from a service


family, and I want to thank you for the service you give to this


country. APPLAUSE


Because this is a voluntary - this is a voluntary military, and you do


what our policymakers have created the situation, so I'm very grateful


to you. I sit here and listen to all of us. The initial question was,


what is the world like after 9/11? What kind of world do we have? This


is an example of the kind of world that we have. We have a world in


which things have been conflated, convoluted, confused, and agendas


have happened, and it's a very simple thing, and I remember


something vividly. This goes back to what this lady was saying. I


remember President Bush in the early days after 9/11 using words


like "crusade", and he was stopped from doing that. I remember people


bringing God into this on the Christian side. We've created a


world in which it is against or for world. There is no middle ground.


We don't - we never, ever hear from the people in Israel who are


working for peace. We never hear from the people in Palestine


working for peace. It's the other sides who get the publicity, and


your question goes back to that. There are people who want to talk,


and they don't get the air time. It's as simple as that. Are we


realistically able to solve the problems in Afghanistan and the


growing problems in Pakistan by 2015? By the date when the troops


are withdrawn? Dr Liam Fox? You said originally there shouldn't be


any deadline, didn't you Yes, but President Karzai said he wanted to


have the security of his own country under his own forces by


2015, and if you have a sovereign government in Afghanistan, you have


to recognise and accept that they will have to ultimately have


control over what they want, and... Does that mean you're very


sceptical about the idea of a deadline? No, I think it's very


achievable for a number of reasons, and Tariq said that we should give


poor Afghanistan a chance. He's quite right. No-one under 30 in


Afghanistan can remember anything other than conflict. We have taken


a lot of things to Afghanistan, but one of the things - and if you go


to talk to people in the markets of Helmand, they'll tell you that the


one thing we have actually brought is some hope because they have a


chance to choose their own governance for the first time -


five times more children are in school than there were four years


ago, more people have access to health care. What we're actually


doing is very positive, and sometimes we should take a bit more


pride in what our country is actually doing and look at the good


things we're actually achieving for the people, and -


APPLAUSE One of the other great things that


our military has been doing is helping to train the Afghan


National Police, the Afghan National Army so that they can take


control of the security of their own country so that we can leave


without leaving behind the sort of security vacuum into which groups


like Al-Qaeda would be drawn, so just for once I think we should say


thank you to what our aid workers are doing, thank you to what our


military are doing because they're actually changing the face of that


country and giving people chance that neither their parents nor


grandparents ever had. The Russians used to say exactly that, exactly


that. The woman in the front. totally agree with what you're


saying, but the fact is thousands and millions of people have died.


It's ridiculous. What is actually being done to prevent people dying?


Innocent lives have died through the whole 9/11 procedure. What


about the people in Afghanistan, all the countries that we're


invading and totally destroying the whole families, lives, and


everything has been ruined by that? What is being done to prevent that


from happening again? I want to take a slightly different area from


Duncan Ayres. We mentioned it briefly. Could the "Arab Spring"


have happened... Fire away again. Could the "Arab Spring" have


happened without the war in Iraq? Could the "Arab Spring" have


happened without the war in Iraq, Richard Perle? I don't think so. I


think what the war in Iraq did ultimately was demonstrate that


even a figure like Saddam Hussein, who Iraqis thought was there


forever, could be removed. Did world saw, including the Arab world


- they saw people coming out of the voting booths in Iraq with purple


thumbs and in fact in the immediate aftermath of that you had an


uprising in Lebanon, which, unfortunately, ran out of steam. I


think it was an inspiration. It was a demonstration that just because


you live in an Arab country, just because you are ruled by an Arab


dictator, you don't have to accept that as your inevitable future.


And we now see the Arab world rising up against its dictators.


APPLAUSE You sounded a little sceptical


about the war in Iraq, David Miliband, in one or two things you


have said. Are you sceptical about the effect of that war, and do you


agree the "Arab Spring" could have happened without it? It's very


tempting for people in my position to say that we'll add to the


positive side of the balance sheet that the "Arab Spring" wouldn't


have happened without the Iraq war. It's tempting, but in all honesty,


I can't say that. APPLAUSE


And it - it would make life - it would make life much easier. I


voted for the war in Iraq. I read Hans Blix's report documenting the


WMD that didn't come. But I have to recognise today that the list of


positives, which include Saddam gone, which include the Kurds safe,


which include Gaddafi giving up his 3,000 chemical bombs - those


positives are outweighed by the longer list of negatives. Now,


history is still being made in Iraq, and as I say, it would make life


easy for me if I could say yes. But the truth about the "Arab Spring"


is that its seeds are deep in Arab society. They're deep among


Egyptians, above all, who have seen their nation run in a kleptocaptic


and corrupt way and national pride sunk. What should be the leader of


the Arab world has been sunk, and that is not aed Saddam Hussein


issue. It's about people demanding universal rights. That's what we


should be standing up for. Can I ask David a very straight question?


David, do you think the 31 million Iraqis who today live in a chaotic


democracy would like to go back to where they were? No-one wants to go


back to living under Saddam Hussein, but... On a balance? If - someone


is going to shout out, "What about those who are dead?" There has been


massive loss of life, but even those Iraqis today, they want a


different kind of liberation is the truth. I don't resile - I don't


rewrite the history of what I voted for and what I said. I try to


explain how I came to those judgments. Do you think you made


the right decisions? On the evidence that was in front of me at


the time, I had to make that decision. Even the Economist, not a


very radical mag, suggests that Iraq today - and I use its words -


is a vicious political police state. That's accurate. We have seen huge


ethnic cleansings taking place. General Petraeus said a few weeks


ago the war in Iraq isn't over. It's going to last a long, long


time. We can't pretend all is well. For me what the "Arab Spring"


revealed is ultimately when a people in a country have had enough


of - whether it's a dictator or a semi-democratic leader, and they


decide to rise and get rid of him - and that is the important thing,


and they got rid of him despite the fact that Mubarak was backed by the


West, as we know, and paid by the West, and who can say that the same


thing wouldn't have happened in Iraq? Who can say that? The "Arab


Spring" proves to me the opposite. If it could have happened in Egypt,


it could have happened in Iraq. APPLAUSE


All right. We're coming to the end. There are many people with their


hands still up. The man in the checked shirt, then briefly, you,


sir. I was just going do say that I think the regimes in Libya and -


where is the other place - Iraq - I think the dictators were more


ruthless than Mubarak personally. I know he was backed by the West. He


didn't try and stop the demonstrations in Egypt, but...


brief one from you, sir. I think it's mad to talk about safer Iraq


and Afghanistan and say for every British person when we have just


screwed up a whole country called Pakistan. This is not Pakistan's


war. It's not a failed state. Labelling a country as a failed


state is a self-fulfilling prophesy. That's what we have seen. The


lesson from the air "Arab Spring" is the people learn no matter how


much you protest, your government isn't going to listen to you. If


the Arabs listened to that there would be no "Arab Spring". We have


to stop there, I am afraid, because our hour is up. Thank you. Apologys


to those of you who had your hands up. Next week we're going to be in


Northern Ireland from a city whose name is the subject of controversy.


You can either call it Londonderry or Derry. The week after that we're


going to be in Birmingham. It's the Liberal Democrat conference. If you


Question Time returns for a new series with a special programme - ten years on from the September 11 attacks. On the panel: Defence Secretary Liam Fox, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, the leading advocate of regime change in Iraq Richard Perle, anti-war campaigner Tariq Ali, American-born playwright Bonnie Greer and Christina Schmidt, whose husband Olaf, a British Army bomb disposal expert, was killed in Afghanistan. Chaired by David Dimbleby from London.

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