- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

LONDON — The mood in the House of Commons is somber. As the cruise missiles and bombs target Taliban terrorism, the first reaction in Britain is for Parliament to assemble. Although in recess, Parliament has twice been recalled by Prime Minister Tony Blair to hear reports on the march of events since Sept. 11.
Early this week, the Commons met again to listen to the prime minister and debate the outcome of the military response now under way.
Overall there is a stern unity and an understanding that the attack on the United States which led to the death of hundreds of British and other European citizens requires the response now under way. Many also want humanitarian response for the Afghan victims of the Taliban to match any response.
The weeks of intense diplomacy since Sept. 11 have brought closure to the 20th century. The Cold War aviary of hawks and doves whose chirping was still heard only yesterday now appears to come from a distant past.
The indulgent me-first politics of the last quarter of the last century, which from both the right and the left denounced government as an enemy to be derided and trashed, have fallen silent.
Democratically accountable government now needs to reassert its authority and plan, not just the necessary application of force to confront Osama bin Laden and his Taliban protectors but new economic and political responses to drain the swamps that breed terrorism.
Both in the Commons and in a keynote speech to 3,000 of his own Labor Party MPs and activists as well as scores of foreign politicians last week, Tony Blair has insisted on the need for Britain to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States.
Twice last century the New World came to save old Europe from the disasters of its own making. Now America has been attacked and Mr. Blair speaks for Britain in wanting to repay some of that debt.
The British prime minister has shuttled across Europe building a joint European response in support of President Bush. He has been pushing at an open door. Because what has been remarkable is the extent to which anti-Americanism is evaporating from European politics. The French elite newspaper, Le Monde, put it well with its front page editorial immediately after the attacks: "Nous sommes tous Americains" ("We are all Americans"). The outpouring of European solidarity with the people of America is to hear a new understanding that, far from being an enemy, the United States, for many Europeans, remains a symbol of hope.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder came to England last week to join with Tony Blair to appeal for a new "trans-Atlantic community" a permanent coalition between North America and Europe to tackle terror. He also invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to make a keynote address to the German Bundestag a historic moment in the process of drawing Russia into the European community of democratic co-operating nations.
While the United States prepared its military response, European leaders have been touring the world urging support for tough action but equally pledging substantial sums of aid to the front-line nations of the coalition like Pakistan whose pro-American leadership will have to face down anger in their own population.
Muslim populations from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean believe they have not received a hearing for their plight and their causes from the West.
Mr. Blair's visit to Pakistan and India is a reminder that moderate and modernizing forces in these two nations need to be encouraged along the path of compromise and conciliation.
Indeed one of the key outcomes of the conflict will be the encouragement of Islamic civil society. Jews, after all, lived safer lives under Ottoman Islamic rule than under the anti-Semitic rulers of much of nation-first Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. A 21st-century geopolitical ambition should be the development of what might be called "Muslim democracy" akin to the Christian democracy that after 1945 turned its back on clerical authoritarianism and helped build a European Union of market dynamism and social justice.
Britain, more than other European countries, or even the United States, has taken the lead in promoting Muslims to political posts. As a party leader, Tony Blair has encouraged the selection of Muslims to be MPs or appointed Muslims to the House of Lords. There are hundreds of Muslim town hall councilors or mayors. Top television and newspaper journalists are prominent British Muslims. The Foreign Office in London is poised to name the first British Muslim diplomats as ambassadors and an all-Muslim team of Foreign Service officers and parliamentarians is now able to work in Mecca to assist British Muslims at the Hajj pilgrimage undertaken by followers of Islam.
As a British member of Parliament and minister, I visit mosques as much as churches in my constituency in the north of England. Ever since he became prime minister, Mr. Blair has hosted regular receptions for Islamic faith and community leaders in Downing Street.
This is no way diminishes Mr. Blair's support for Israel. The Labor leader is Britain's most pro-Israeli prime minister since Winston Churchill. But as a man who reads the Koran alongside the Bible, Mr. Blair insists that all the religions descended from the prophet Abraham must be afforded equal dignity.
Britain is also taking a lead in massively increasing the range and transmission strength of news and discussion broadcasts by the independent BBC World Service in Pashto and other languages spoken in Afghanistan. The BBC's rigorous editorial independence and historic refusal to convey government propaganda makes it the favorite station in Afghanistan with Taliban officials and their families known to be keen listeners.
The British government's cultural arm, the British Council, is also launching a new "dialogue between civilizations" reaching out to increase exchanges between young professional, journalists and scholars in Muslim countries and their opposite numbers in Britain.
In a sense, this is to move the conflict from 1941 (Pearl Harbor) to 1947 the announcement of the Marshall Plan and the beginning of the postwar settlement based on free trade, market economies, education and health for all, and the defense partnership of NATO.
Last week, Tony Blair referred to the need for "international community" not in the sense of a new world directorate to replace the United Nations and the growth of international rule of law but rather as a concept of moral worth in which the obligations of mutual responsibility overcome the assertions of individual right.
Tony Blair has led Europe into a new coalition with the United States, forging a unity of the world's democracies not seen in decades. Yesterday's military strikes must not be the end but rather the beginning of a new political and economic deal aimed at restoring the role of government and peaceful politics as vehicles of change. Terror has had its day.

Denis MacShane is a deputy foreign minister of Britain. He is a Labor Party member of Parliament, representing the northern England region of Rotheram,

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