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Blair on 9/11, threats remain

Friday, September 09, 2011 - 02:53

Sept. 9 - Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. homeland secretary Michael Chertoff reflect on whether the world is a safer place, ten years after 9/11. Kirsty Basset reports.

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The images of September 11 remain as chilling as they were a decade ago. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was the first leader to speak with then President George Bush after the attacks. (SOUNDBITE)(English) FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR SAYING: "We were clear that the calculus of risk had changed. This terrorist threat that had been growing up over a number of years had now taken on a new and profoundly different dimension." Ten years on, the United States has spent $1.3 trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $400 billion on security - but is the United States - and indeed the west - a safer place? The death of Osama bin Laden dealt a huge psychological blow earlier this year, but Blair says it's the ideology of terrorism that needs to be defeated. (SOUNDBITE)(English) FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR SAYING: "The risk is still there. But we've gone after them, we've degraded a lot of their capacity and capability. We've either captured or killed many of their leading people. I think the problem is, which is why, although we've made significant advances this struggle still goes on, I think the narrative and the ideology of the movement is still there." Former U.S. homeland secretary Michael Chertoff fears that with Bin Laden gone, a younger generation of more creative al Qaeda leaders may emerge in the next decade, along with other security challenges. (SOUNDBITE)(English) FORMER U.S. HOMELAND SECRETARY AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE CHERTOFF GROUP, MICHAEL CHERTOFF SAYING: "I think it will be challenging as you have more and more homegrown terrorists, harder to detect, particularly if they operate in small groups. I think there are going to be challenges as I've said with cyber security as that remains a significant vulnerability for a lot of businesses and I'm concerned not in the short run, but in the medium and long run of possible biological attacks, which would be potentially catastrophic." Blair said after September 11 that the world was in a state of flux - but now sees signs - particularly in the shape of the Arab uprising, that the world is reordering itself - he hopes for the better. (SOUNDBITE)(English) FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR SAYING: "It's perfectly possible by the way to get the youth of the Arab world and it is of course a young population. The Arab world will double in population in the next 30 years. It's absolutely possible to rally people behind an open minded view of the world, but we're going to have to work at it, that's my point. It's not going to happen simply of its own accord and there will be forces that try and wrench them the other way - forces that are not limited to al Qaeda." Amid warnings the Arab uprisings could provide an opportunity for al Qaeda to reenergise - many hope democracy - and efficient economies will triumph over the arguments that feed terrorism. Kirsty Basset, Reuters.

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Blair on 9/11, threats remain

Friday, September 09, 2011 - 02:53