Tag Archives: 9/11

20 years on: Menzies Campbell’s speech in 9/11 recall

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the recall of Parliament in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the USA.

We posted Charles Kennedy’s speech earlier. In a subsequent debate on international terrorism, Menzies Campbell, then our foreign affairs spokesperson, spoke. He made some unfailingly liberal points, about how important it was to focus on justice rather than retaliation, to make sure any response is based on decent intelligence and international co-operation and, importantly, that we should note that the perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda and the Srebrenica massacre were not met hunted down with international military action. We mustn’t, he said, give the impression that the lives of those in the richest countries are worth more than those in the poorest.

Here is his speech in full, taken from Commons Hansard.

Back then, he and Paddy Ashdown were go-to people for the media on foreign affairs. They had huge credibility and were well known.

Not for the first time this week, I reflect on the fact that no matter how rich or diverse the English language it is inadequate to convey the sense of horror and frustration that so many of us feel about the events that have taken place across the Atlantic. Expressions such as “defining moment” have been thrown about—there are many of my generation for whom the defining moment appeared to be the assassination of John F. Kennedy—but I suspect that the life of the most powerful city in the most powerful country in the world will never be the same. I refer not just to the irritation of increased airline security, but to the realisation that no country, however powerful, can guarantee absolute safety for its citizens.

After the emotions of shock, sorrow and anger has come, as the Prime Minister rightly expressed, our admiration for the people of the United States. The United States is a great country with enormous economic resources, but this week we have seen that it has great resources of character as well. How else can one explain the extraordinary unified response to these events: immediate bipartisanship in the Congress, the quite extraordinary valour of the emergency services and, in towns and villages throughout the United States, public protests of determination that the people will not be intimidated?

In our occasionally patronising way, we on this side of the Atlantic sometimes raise our eyebrows at the United States’ style of public affirmation of nationhood—the pledge of allegiance and the public support for the flag. The truth is that this week has demonstrated that, in time of crisis, that public expression of unity is priceless in promoting a common purpose and a determination to triumph over adversity. The collective response of the people of the United States has rightly earned the admiration of us all.

When the roll call of nations that have lost citizens is set down, it will tell us that the nations of the whole world were the indiscriminate targets of the zealots whose barbarity has brought sadness and grief to so many families. For me, and perhaps for others, the close proximity of the headquarters of the United Nations has more than symbolic significance. We know that the heaviest burden will be borne by the people of the United States. Out of the collective sorrow that they suffer, and that we share, there must surely come a resolve that through collective action the perpetrators will be brought to justice and terrorism will be met in all circumstances by a robust defence of democratic values.

Let me try to put to rest the canard that somehow United States’ policy in the middle east was the cause of these events. I have not always agreed with United States’ policy in the middle east, and indeed I have said so in the House on many occasions, but the cause of these events was a deliberate and calculated decision to take the lives of as many as possible, allied to the willingness of desperate men to implement that decision at the cost of their own lives. The Prime Minister was correct to tell us that we must not suffer any ambiguity in our analysis of terrorism, but we should also remind ourselves that terrorism often flourishes where real or perceived injustice prevails. Communities which have an unresolved or unrecognised sense of grievance are driven sometimes to assume that terrorism is the only way of seeking resolution or recognition.

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20 years on: Charles Kennedy’s speech at the 9/11 recall of Parliament

Twenty years ago today, Parliament was recalled to debate the 9/11 terror attacks. Charles Kennedy, our then leader, spoke with customary good sense. He spoke of the need for international organisations to rise to the occasion. He spoke of his concern at the way asylum seekers and immigrants were already starting to be demonised. Here is his speech in full:

On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I wholly associate the Liberal Democrats with the proper sentiments that have been expressed so well by the Prime Minister and by the new leader of the Conservative party—whom I congratulate despite the sad circumstances that coincide with his election—about the breathtaking nature of the savagery that we have witnessed in the United States. Many of our constituents and communities throughout our land, never mind the United States and the wider international community, will have been affected.

We all have a heavy heart today. As I listened to the Prime Minister, I thought back into history. Speaking in the House of Commons in very different circumstances, John Bright spoke of the sense that the angel of death was floating above the Chamber. There is no doubt that the angel of death is very much with us today.

I spent one of the happiest years of my life as a student in the mid-west of the United States, in Indiana, and I have been a fairly regular visitor back and forth to New York in the 20 years since then. Until I became a student in the United States, I did not understand how mid-west America feels divorced from east coast and west coast America. Speaking to friends—including one who once worked in one of the buildings that were attacked but who, just before the summer, was transferred further down Wall street and was therefore not afflicted by this terrible tragedy—I was struck by the remarkable extent to which middle America, east coast America and west coast America have become united as never before. We, a country on the other side of the Atlantic, must not underestimate that. We have to understand the scale of the shock and the unity that it has brought about in that great country and on that great continent.

Yesterday afternoon, in common with the Conservative party leader, the Prime Minister, the former Conservative party leader and other Members of Parliament, I went to sign the condolence book in Grosvenor square. It was remarkable to read the sentiments expressed there. There was a bouquet of flowers from a Polish ex-service man in the second world war, now domiciled in London. A family from Dagenham who had no connections with the United States wanted to say how sorry they were. American tourists here in London are bereft because they do not know what has happened to people they know, family or loved ones: they are without information.

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Senior Lib Dems mark 9/11 anniversary

Senior Lib Dems have been reflecting on 9/11 and its aftermath:

 

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LibLink: Rabina Khan: Life as a British Muslim changed forever on 9/11

Writing in the Independent, Lib Dem Tower Hamlets Councillor Rabina Khan reflects on how 9/11 changed things for British Muslims.

She described her reaction on the day. Like our editor Caron Lindsay, she was cradling her baby as she watched events unfold on the television:

She described her sadness, and anger at that the perpetrators had done but also fear about what was coming for Muslims as a result of the actions of a few extremists who would be held to represent an entire religion:

At the same time, I felt anxious, knowing that some people would assume that all Muslims harboured the same views as the terrorists. Extremists are not Muslims and have deliberately skewed the texts to fit their homicidal agenda. They are murderers.

America’s response to that fateful day rewrote not just its own democracy but reshaped our world and the way we live. Our world witnessed the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, secret surveillance, increased dawn raids on Muslim homes, the way our children and young people were monitored at school. It became an era of fear and mistrust.

And it was that fear which had a profound effect on her daily life:

How can I forget the countless times I saw the look of dread and panic on people’s faces when I reached for my phone from my bag on the tube or the time when my rosary fell out of my bag during Ramadan? I remember a little after the terror attack my elderly gran’s beloved Adhan clock (the call to prayer) went off in her bag and people in the queue in a shop ran for the door.

Oblivious to the lingering, uncomfortable and judgmental stares in the shop from staff, my gran dressed in her crisp cotton white sari and head covered with a shawl, turned off the alarm, picked up the toy a parent had dropped and handed it back to the cashier. Recently, I was travelling on the tube in London when I was called a “f****** Muslim whore” by another passenger, but there were people who stood up for me.

Things have got worse in the meantime and she’s not optimistic for the future:

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9/11 remembered

Twenty years ago, about this time, I arrived home. It was a particularly uneventful Tuesday. My then toddler and I had been to parent and toddler group and had walked home and were about to have a wee snuggle on the sofa watching the Tweenies. Later that evening, my friend Anne and I were going to head off for a power walk to kickstart our Autumn fitness project.

And then I turned on the telly. Instead of watching Milo, Fizz, Bella and Jake do their thing, I sat, transfixed, by the events unfolding in front of me. The toddler was more about the snuggles than the actual content on the tv so was soon asleep. I was free to take in the horror of the third plane hitting the Pentagon.

I remember being jolted by the contrast of the horror in New York and President George W Bush reading to a class of 7 year olds.

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World Review: 9/11, Trudeau, Putin and Patel

It is the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Two decades since 2,996 lives were lost in suicide attacks on the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. In New York the occasion will be marked by families of the dead reading statements about their loved ones. The event will be closed to the public. Elsewhere in the world, the anniversary will be marked with foreboding. The attack was carried out by Al Qaeeda and was planned and coordinated from its base in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Within weeks a US-led NATO force toppled the Taliban government. There has not been a Jihadist attack on US soil since. President Biden has now withdrawn US forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban is back in power.

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Daily View 2×2: 27 May 2010

Detail of the art deco crown of the Chrysler Building, New YorkGood morning, and welcome to Daily View on the day which sees New York’s Chrysler Building celebrate its 80th birthday. Completed in 1930, it was the tallest building in the world for all of 11 months, before being replaced by the Empire State Building. After 9/11, it is once again the second tallest building in New York.

Also celebrating birthdays today are the chef Jamie Oliver (who is currently applying for planning permission to build a restaurant in Nottingham I will probably never be able to afford to eat in); West Wing actor Richard Schiff and the Lib Dem MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale Tim Farron. Some have speculated he might be in the running to replace Vince Cable as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats; he tweeted last night that as Vince Cable’s PPS, he got to hear the “Stalin to Mr Bean” gag in rehearsal. Tim is 40 today.

2 Big Stories

Coalition government sets out radical welfare reforms

So says the Guardian headline, anyway, but the article is light on detail if heavy on mood music. A lot of people will be watching anxiously for the detail.

Duncan Smith says he is to propose to the Treasury a radical scheme that includes simplification of the complex benefits system designed to make it financially worthwhile for unemployed people to work, including in part-time jobs.

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