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TWELVE

9/11: “SHOULDER TO SHOULDER”

It is amazing how quickly shock is absorbed and the natural rhythm of the human spirit reasserts itself. A cataclysm occurs. The senses reel. In that moment of supreme definition, we can capture in our imagination an event’s full significance. Over time, it is not that the memory of it fades, exactly; but its illuminating light dims, loses its force, and our attention moves on. We remember, but not as we felt at that moment. The emotional impact is replaced by a sentiment which, because it is more calm, seems more rational. But paradoxically it can be less rational, because the calm is not the product of a changed analysis, but of the effluxion of time.

So it was with 11 September 2001. On that day, in the course of less than two hours, almost 3,000 people were killed in the worst terrorist attack the world has ever known. Most died in the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center that dominated the skyline of New York. It was a workplace for as diverse a workforce as any in the world, from all nations, races and faiths, and was not only a symbol of American power but also the edifice that most eloquently represented the modern phenomenon of globalisation.

The explosion as the planes hit killed hundreds outright, but most died in the inferno that followed, and the carnage of the collapse of the buildings. As the flames and smoke engulfed them, many jumped in terror and panic, or just because they preferred that death to being on fire. Many who died were rescue workers whose heroism that day has rightly remained as an enduring testament to selfless sacrifice.

The Twin Towers were not the only target. American Airlines Flight 77, carrying sixty-four people from Washington to Los Angeles, was flown into the Pentagon. A total of 189 people died. United Airlines Flight 93, bound from Newark to San Francisco with forty-four on board, was hijacked, its target probably the White House. It came down in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Its passengers, realising the goal of the hijack, stormed the cabin. In perishing, they saved the lives of many others.

It was an event like no other. It was regarded as such. The British newspapers the next day were typical of those around the globe: “at war,” they proclaimed. The most common analogy was Pearl Harbor. The notion of a world, not just America, confronted by a deadly evil that had indeed declared war on us all was not then dismissed as the language of the periphery of public sentiment. It was the sentiment. Thousands killed by terror—what else should we call it?

Opinions were forthright and clear, and competed with each other in resolution, not only in the West but everywhere. In the Arab world, condemnation was nearly universal, only Saddam ensuring that Iraqi state television played a partisan song, “Down with America,” calling the attacks “the fruits of American crimes against humanity.” Yasser Arafat condemned the acts on behalf of the Palestinians, though unfortunately, most especially for the Palestinian cause, the TV showed pictures of some jubilant Palestinians celebrating.

The most common words that day were “war,” “evil,” “sympathy,” “solidarity,” “determination” and, of course, “change.” Above all, it
was accepted that the world had changed. How could it be otherwise? The reason for such a description was also not hard to divine. The first attempt to attack the World Trade Center, in 1993, had been foiled, but the planning this time had obviously been meticulous. The enemy had been prepared to wait until it had accumulated the necessary means and opportunity.

However, more than that, a terror attack of this scale was not calculated to do limited damage. It was designed for maximum casualty. It was delivered by a suicide mission. It therefore had an intent, a purpose and a scope beyond anything we had encountered before. This was terror without limit; without mercy; without regard to human life, because it was motivated by a cause higher than any human cause. It was inspired by a belief in God; a perverted belief, a delusional and demonic belief, to be sure, but nonetheless so inspired.

It was, in a very real sense, a declaration of war. It was calculated to draw us into conflict. Up to then, the activities of this type of extremism had been growing. It was increasingly associated with disputes that seemed unconnected, though gradually the connection was being made. Kashmir, Chechnya, Algeria, Yemen, Palestine, Lebanon; in each area, different causes were at play, with different origins, but the attacks, carried out as acts of terror, were growing, and the ideological link with an extreme element that professed belief in Islam was ever more frequently expressed. Until 11 September, the splashes of colour on different parts of the canvas did not appear to the eye as a single picture. After it, the clarity was plain, vivid and defining.

We look back now, almost a decade later when we are still at war, still struggling and managing the ghastly consequences which war imposes, and we can scarcely recall how we ever came to be in this position. But on that bright New York morning, not a cloud disturbing the bluest of blue skies, we knew exactly what was happening and why.

We knew that so far as we were concerned we had not provoked such an outrage. There had been acts of terror committed against us: Lockerbie, the USS Cole, the U.S. embassy in Tanzania. We had tried to retaliate, but at a relatively low level. They were individual tragedies, but they did not amount to a war. They were the price America paid for being America. The other conflicts we reckoned were none of our business; or at least they were the business of our diplomatic corps, but not of our people.

So those carrying out such acts were wicked; but they weren’t changing our world view. George Bush had won the presidency after the controversies of the most contested ballot in U.S. history, but the battle between him and Al Gore had focused mainly on domestic policy. At my first meeting with him—Camp David in February of the same year—his priorities were about education, welfare and cutting down on big government as he saw it.

So there was no build-up to 11 September, no escalation, no attempts to defuse that failed, no expectation or inevitability. There was just an attack—planned obviously during the previous presidency—of unbelievable ferocity and effect. No warning, no demands, no negotiation. Nothing except mass slaughter of the innocent.

We were at war.We could not ignore it. But how should we deal with it? And who was this enemy? A person? A group? A movement? A state?

I was in Brighton that day, to give the biennial address to the Trades Union Congress. Frankly, it was always a pretty ghastly affair for both of us. As I explain elsewhere, I was frustrated they wouldn’t modernise; they were frustrated with my telling them how to do their business. Not that they were ever slow in telling me how to do mine, mind you. And sure-fire election-losing advice it was too. They ignored my counsel; and I ignored theirs. For all that, we sort of rubbed along after a fashion, and in a manner of speaking, and up to a point.

The great thing about Brighton is that it is warm, closer than Blackpool to London, and retains the enormous charm of yesteryear. Blackpool can be a great town and has a unique quality, but it needs work done on it. Brighton was where Neil Kinnock, posing for photos on the pebble beach on the day he became Labour leader in 1983, lost his footing and fell in the sea. You can imagine the pleasure of the assembled press. It must have been replayed a thousand times and became a slightly defining misstep; unfairly so, of course; but such things are never fair. In public, you are always on show, so always be under control. The trick, actually, is to appear to be natural, while gripping your nature in a vice of care and caution. Don’t let the mask slip; don’t think this is the moment to begin a new adventure in communication; don’t betray excesses of emotion of any kind; do it all with the ease and character of someone talking to old friends while knowing they are, in fact, new acquaintances.

Over time, I began to think there was never a moment when I could be completely candid and exposed. You worried that even sitting in your living room or in the bath, someone would come to photograph, question and call upon you to justify yourself. I became unhealthily focused on how others saw me, until, again over time, I refocused on how I saw myself. I realised I was considered public property, but the ownership was mine. I learned not to let the opinion of others, even a prevailing one, define my view of myself and what I should or should not do.

The TUC took place in early to mid-September, and the party conference a couple of weeks later. Both always made September a little nerve-tingling. From the TUC you could get a sense of where the party were liable to be in terms of contentment and/or otherwise. Trouble at the first usually presaged trouble at the second. The 2001 TUC was no exception. Having just won our first ever consecutive full term, in a second landslide victory, you would have thought it an occasion for general rejoicing. “I think mostly they’ll want to congratulate you on the victory,” Alastair said to me, po-faced, as we boarded the train.

“Do you think so?” I said, perking up.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he replied.

Sure enough, the mood as I arrived at lunchtime was the usual mixture of sweet and sour, but with the sweet a decided minority. I went straight to the Grand Hotel. We had an hour and a half before I had to go to the new Conference Centre a hundred yards or so along the beachfront. I worked in the bedroom as the team gathered in the living room of the suite. Just after a quarter to two, around 8:45 Eastern Standard Time, Alastair was called out of the room by Godric Smith, his very capable deputy. Alastair came back in, turned on the television and said, “You’d better see this.” He knew I hated being interrupted just before a speech, so I realised I’d better look. The TV was showing pictures of the Trade Center like someone had punched a huge hole in it, fire and smoke belching forth. Just over fifteen minutes later, a second plane hit, this time graphically captured live on-screen. This was not an accident. It was an attack.

At that moment, I felt eerily calm despite being naturally horrified at the devastation, and aware this was not an ordinary event but a worldchanging one. At one level it was a shock, a seemingly senseless act of evil. At another level, it made sense of developments I had seen growing in the world these past years—isolated acts of terrorism, disputes marked by the same elements of extremism, and a growing strain of religious ideology that was always threatening to erupt, and now had. Within a very short space of time, it was clear the casualties would be measured in thousands. I ordered my thoughts. It was the worst terrorist attack in human history. It was not America alone who was the target, but all of us who shared the same values. We had to stand together. We had to understand the scale of the challenge and rise to meet it. We could not give up until it was done. Unchecked and unchallenged, this could threaten our way of life to its fundamentals. There was no other course; no other option; no alternative path. It was war. It had to be fought and won. But it was a war unlike any other. This was not a battle for territory, not a battle between states; it was a battle for and about the ideas and values that would shape the twenty-first century.

All this came to me in those forty minutes between the first attack and my standing up in front of the audience to tell them that I would not deliver my speech but instead return immediately to London. And it came with total clarity. Essentially, it stayed with that clarity and stays still, in the same way, as clear now as it was then.


From the Hardcover edition. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Revue de presse

"Much, much better than the book ... for getting the full-on Blair effect!" (Kati Nicholl Daily Express)

"Love Tony Blair or hate him, his own reading... is extremely compelling. The abridgement...omits many of the careless cruelties crowed over by reviewers of the book, and interestingly, Gordon Brown comes out of it remarkably well." (Christina Hardyment The Times)

"...he rolls out a formidable account of the exercise of power, more revealing of the leader than the man'" (The Telegraph)



Détails sur le produit

  • CD
  • Editeur : Audiobooks; Édition : Abridged edition (1 septembre 2010)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 9781846571626
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846571626
  • ASIN: 1846571626
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,8 x 3,5 x 14,1 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 789.370 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Gail Cooke le 13 novembre 2010
Format: CD
Former British prime minister Tony Blair's memoir "A Journey: My Political Life" is a political biography of unusual interest. Clearly the most dominant figure in Britain's politics for the past 20 years Blair came to the fore as leader of the Labour Party in 1994, and served as prime minister from 1997 - 2007. These years saw him deal with the devastation of Princess Diana's death, peace negotiations in Northern Ireland, enormous public service reforms, and war - Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iraq. Here is a journal of those years in his own words.

Blair has donated all proceeds from this book to charity for wounded British military veterans. And, in his memoir he ruminates about whether or not his decisions to engage in war were wise. He delivers more than a convincing defense of his actions. Further, he expresses admiration and respect for recent American presidents, including Obama, and notes that in visiting our shores during the ten years he served as prime minister he came to love America.

It is rare that one is offered such a close look at history as seen through the eyes of an important participant. Deprecating at times his writing seems devoid of artifice, but simply a desire to tell it as it was. Speaking of telling it's an immense pleasure to listen to it read in Blair's own voice. Rich in anecdotal material A JOURNEY is interesting reading as well as being an important contribution not only for generations to come but also a study to help us better understand our world today.

Enjoy!

- Gail Cooke
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par didi le 18 octobre 2011
Format: Relié
Je n'aurais pas donner le plaisir à Tony Blair d'acheter son livre au prix fort... je suis en train de lire..ses hypocrisies.
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0 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Jean-philippe Vest le 8 mars 2011
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Un peu long parfois, ce livre reste essentiel pour connaître la vision du monde qu'a ce grand homme politique, qui a vécu et fait l'Histoire.
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Amazon.com: 101 commentaires
205 internautes sur 229 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A fascinating journey 2 septembre 2010
Par Emil B - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
As Tony Blair said it at the beginning of the book, this is not a memoir; it is a reflection of history that unravelled around him mainly during the time of his prime ministership. Readers may have extremely different political views and a review risks appearing taking one side or another. My review is not about Tony Blair the politician, but Tony Blair the writer. I am only judging the book from the point of view of the quality of writing describing personal development, political views, exposure to events and people packed in one single volume. My conclusion is if you can put the politics aside, it is a great read.

Undeniably, Tony is a master of political thinking. He is the longest serving Labour Prime Minister after all. You will find in this book a superb analysis of leadership when he writes about the period before the election in 1992. He is a genius when it comes to understanding the change in the public mood and society, although not without fault, as history has shown. An interesting read is the analysis of Labour philosophy, its political agenda, the structure of the voters who favoured Labour, and who didn't, the meaning of "working class" in the 80's (the philosophical essence of the change to New Labour could be summarised in his words: "I hate class. I love aspiration"), the thinking system of some of the Labour main public figures.

The book is personal story narrated in a style that changes throughout the book. It can be crisp and clear, but it can be convoluted, dragging the argument on and on. It gives away a schism between two sides which contradict themselves: the intense, ambitious political man who has the point blank desire to get the power ("it is an extraordinary feeling...you can achieve something beyond the ordinary") and the person accepting the destiny that gives him the sceptre of that power. The sense of destiny appears sometimes as if he did it because he had to; it is almost a justification for some difficult choices.

One of the aspects I liked about the book is its authenticity. Tony Blair seems to be genuine; he is not chasing elegance and righteousness and sometimes he becomes so involved with the subject to the point where he almost forgets he is addressing to a reader. He would know when is opinion is controversial and accept many others have opposite opinions. He leaves the door open for others' interpretation of error on his behalf. He knows the public is judging him. His only defence is personal belief in what he considers his duty.

He can be very funny at times. The story of his "freaking" experience at the Balmoral Castle with the royal family when the valet asked if he wanted him to "draw the bath" made me laugh out loud. I have the impression he enjoyed working on this book; except probably when he talks about Gordon Brown.

He describes the PMQ (Prime Minister Question) times as "discombobulating, nail-biting, bowel-moving, terror-inspiring, courage-draining experience in my prime ministerial life, without question". And many other subjects are treated with the same deliberate style, the Northern Ireland peace deal, Iraq, relationship with US, etc.

There is one thread though that goes through the book, something that causes him quite a discomfort: his relationship with Gordon Brown (GB as he refers to him sometimes). This is an aspect of his life that has no definite closure and he is not hundred percent comfortable talking about it, but he talks.

I can bet London on a brick on that you will find at least on one occasion something intriguing, interesting and fascinating somewhere in this book that will surprise you. I will not give any example of that for two reasons: I don't want to give away details of the book and because of many of the controversies and huge amount of publicity that followed Tony Blair during this political life, what is interesting, intriguing, interesting and fascinating depends entirely on the reader's attitude and political belief.
122 internautes sur 138 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Fabulous Read of the Life of a Charismatic Prime Minister !!! 3 septembre 2010
Par Richard of Connecticut - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
First my objective analysis: Blair was Labor leader in 1994, and rode that position to become Prime minister in 1997 with the biggest victory in Labor's history. The book contains 22 chapters covering the period 1997 to 2007. There is a chapter dealing with 2007 - 2010 which are issues that are current and subsequent to his service as Prime Minister. As you know all biography is subjective and selective, and this book is no less so than others. The book's most interesting chapters are:

3) New Labor

5) Princess Diane

6) Peace in Northern Ireland

8) Kosovo

12) 9/11 "Shoulder to Shoulder"

My Subjective Analysis": Tony Blair can write, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. You know an author is at the very top of his form when he can put together sentences in such a way that you say to yourself, if I had a month to think about it, I don't think I could have put it any better.

An example is in the introduction, where Blair states the American burden is that it wants to be loved, but knows it can't be. Love is given to nations with which we sympathize...powerful nations aren't loved...they have to be feared by their enemies.

Blair also seems to be excellent at understanding the world leaders that he developed extensive personal and long relationships with. This includes Vladimir Putin, Clinton, Bush, and now Obama. Listen in just a few words at what awaits you:

Bill Clinton - The Prime Minister found Clinton to be, "The most formidable politician I ever met, actually a brilliant President. He made it at times look easy."

George W. Bush - Blair thought Bush was straight forward and direct. He says about Bush, "The stupidest misconception was that he was stupid" - great intuition, less about politics, more about he thought was right and wrong.

Barack Obama - This was a very interesting observation. "This is a man with steel in every part of him."

You will love his candid analysis of all the major players in the world. However as is true in most autobiographic materials, Blair is less candid about himself and his shortcomings. There is very little about his upbringing or what brought him to his political beliefs. Regarding Iraq he is unapologetic about leading his country to war when there were no weapons of mass destruction. It seems he is trying to sway history here, more than the current reader.

Blair also states that his interest in religion was greater than his interest in politics, but then tells us nothing about how his religious beliefs have impacted and shaped his political beliefs. All in all this is a GREAT READ, and I urge you to do so, if only to get a wonderful understanding of how a foreign leader who had an understanding of America in this time viewed our country through his own informed lens.

Blair will always be remembered as the man who brought the Labor Party into the 21st century by getting rid of the concept of nationalization, and let's disarm by ourselves. He also was quite eloquent in explaining our President's position on Iraq better than our President was. Small failing's aside, I think you will love reading this book, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard C. Stoyeck
17 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
My Bet: An Incomplete Journey 1 décembre 2010
Par Marc Korman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Tony Blair's autobiography hits all the high points of his tenure and a few around it: Some brief background about Blair's fairly pedestrian middle class background; his rise to power in Labor including the timely death of one of his predecessors which allowed him to jump to leadership; his three elections and the many episodes that came between them such as Iraq, peace efforts in Ireland, National Health Service reform, and the millennium; and his long, somewhat tortured departure. A few observations:

1. Tony Blair never really had a friendship with Gordon Brown. Oh he says they were friends and the press has told us they were, but if you read between the lines they always viewed each other as competitors. Blair did not miss many opportunities to leapfrog over Brown in the party leadership or slap Brown down as PM. He then seems surprised when Brown does not treat him with total deference. I am sure he said something nice about Brown somewhere in the book, but I cannot recall where.

2. Blair is much more conservative than I thought. I always thought of Blair as a progressive to moderate who was muscular on national security. Blair tries to align himself with Bill Clinton as a third way type of centrist progressive. But other than climate change and a few platitudes towards progressive programs, Blair does not really have much patience for them. This really comes through with his criticism to the economic crisis that occurred once he was out of office, which he seems to believe the market could have solved. But throughout the book his description of "new labor" has a lot in common with the Republican Party in the United States. Oh I am sure I am overstating it, but I was really surprised by the way his positions came off.

3. Blair could not decide who his audience was. At times Blair does a good job of explaining things to us Americans but at other times names are flying by fast and furious and events and formalities that are likely common knowledge in the British system are a bit confusing. That is understandable given that he was the British PM and has no obligation to write for us uninformed Americans, just be prepared for it.

4. Blair needed an editor. The book rambles on a bit particularly in the section on Ireland (which brings me back to point 3, I did not have much context for it) and his "will he, won't he, when will he" departure. Blair also tends to describe people the same way. "Joe Smith was Joe Smith, as ever," never really saying too much about them, sometimes criticizing them, but assuring us that he still likes and respects them for some reason. I noticed it again and again.

5. Blair really liked George W. Bush. He also really liked Clinton, but he really gives a good defense of President Bush here including some of his lesser known but best policies such as support for Africa. Blair's relationships with the two US presidents he served with is interesting and I wonder if there is any president he would not have found a way to get along with. He did not think much of Reagan, though he was not PM then but praised Obama whose tenure began after his.

6. Blair wants to come back. He basically says it at the end but it is something that occurred to me as I was reading the book. Iraq prevents that for now, but this book's spirited defense and time may change the political calculus for Blair. Disraeli, Gladstone, and Churchill all had multiple runs at 10 Downing Street and I think Blair harbors that ambition too.

All in all, a good showing by one of the most influential political leaders of our times.
56 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Great insights...great read... 2 septembre 2010
Par Lewis Codington - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Mr. Blair has fascinating insights into our times and especially into the leaders who have been on the world stage during his years in politics. He speaks as if he is chatting to you over a cup of coffee...yet his thoughts and conclusions show deep thinking and understanding. Much more than simply reviewing the events he has been part of, he evaluates, assesses, and judges the importance and substance of these recent years. A great book...
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
This is really long 16 décembre 2010
Par Straightforward - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I was not sure that I would finish this book and I always finish books. It is very long but did have some very good content. I have always liked Tony Blair and his centrist political perspectives are at times interesting. I am glad to have learned all that I did but did it really require 600+ pages. If you want to learn about the UK, Tony Blair and a perspective at least somewhat different than what we are used to, go ahead, but realize this will take a long time.
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