The Only Choice in This War on Terror Is Being Hated and Despised, or Hated and Feared. I Know Which I Prefer the Only Choice in This War on Terror Is Being Hated and Despised, or Hated and Feared. I Know Which I Prefer .
The former Defence Secretary on why Bush is right to get tough By MICHAEL PORTILLO
JUST hours after the attack on the World Trade Centre, the message from President Bush was clear. This was not a crime, but an act of war.
The duty of the President was not merely, like some latter-day sheriff, to apprehend those responsible, but rather to use the might of the United States to destroy all others who wished to attack his country and had the capability to kill Americans by the thousand.
As we watched, with mounting horror, the wreckage of buildings and of people's lives, who could doubt that that was a proper response? How could the American President promise less? If he has one duty above all, it's to do everything possible to protect his people from further atrocities.
But it wasn't long before that judgment and that duty were being questioned outside America.
Many in Britain spoke up to point out the perils of taking military action, fearing the dangers of reprisal and the risks of inflaming passions.
Those dangers are real. But the consequence of inaction would be worse.
Appeasement doesn't have a good track record, and nothing provokes a terrorist more than sensing that Western society is too fearful or too decadent to defend itself.
Then the anti-Americans, who seem to have a good foothold even in Britain, complained Mr Bush would lash out in revenge.
He disappointed them. His every action has been measured.
But that hasn't stopped contributors to BBC Radio 4's Thought For The Day this week talking of 'America's war machine' and of the 'hundreds of civilian casualties' of American bombing - a claim that not even the Taliban has made.
Now we seem beset by commentators fearful that America may carry its fight against terrorism beyond Afghanistan. At times, our Government has sounded as though it shares that fear. The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, seemed to say this week that Britain could support action against, say, Iraq only if it could be established that Saddam Hussein was implicated in the attacks on America.
That is strangely at odds with what President Bush (and the Prime Minister) said at the time of the terrorist outrage: that the struggle had to be against all terrorists and all governments that nurtured them.
hat we already know about September 11 underlines that not one, but a number of terrorist organisations was involved. In any case, if we bind ourselves to take action only against those who have already attacked America, that will certainly not provide the United States - or Britain - with security. Can we seriously imagine an outcome to this conflict that leaves Saddam still able to manufacture biological weapons that could be used by terrorists against our cities?
I well understand that for reasons of keeping the coalition together, George W. Bush and Tony Blair must for now direct all their rhetoric against Afghanistan alone. But please, Mr Straw, don't make ill-considered promises now about what we won't do in the future. What was the background to the mass murder in New York and Washington? …