Q. What do you say to people who today conclude that British people have died and been maimed as a result of you appearing here today, shoulder-to-shoulder with a controversial American President?
And, Mr. President, if I could ask you, with thousands on the street — with thousands marching on the streets today here in London, a free nation, what is your conclusion as to why apparently so many free citizens fear you and even hate you?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I’d say freedom is beautiful. It’s a fantastic thing to come to a country where people are able to express their views.
Q Why do they hate you, Mr. President? Why do they hate you in such numbers?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I don’t know that they do. All I know is that it’s — that people in Baghdad, for example, weren’t allowed to do this up until recent history. They’re not spending a lot of time in North Korea protesting the current leadership. Freedom is a wonderful thing, and I respect that. I fully understand people don’t agree with war. But I hope they agree with peace and freedom and liberty. I hope they care deeply about the fact that when we find suffering and torture and mass graves, we weep for the citizens that are being brutalized by tyrants.
And, finally, the Prime Minister and I have a solemn duty to protect our people. And that’s exactly what I intend to do as the President of the United States, protect the people of my country.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: To answer your first question and your other, indeed, people have the right to protest and to demonstrate in our countries, and I think that’s part of our democracy. And all I say to people is — and this is the importance, I think, of the speech the President made yesterday — listen to our case, as well. I mean, we listen — that’s what a democratic exchange should be about — but listen to the case that we are making.
Because there is something truly bizarre about a situation where we have driven the Taliban out of government in Afghanistan who used to stop women going about the street as they wished, who used to prevent girls going to school, who brutalized and terrorized their population; there’s something bizarre about having got rid of Saddam in Iraq from the government of Iraq, when we’ve already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves — there is something bizarre about these situations happening, and people saying that they disagree, when the effect of us not doing this would be that the Taliban was still in Afghanistan and Saddam was still in charge of Iraq. And I think people have got to accept that that is the consequence of the position therein.
Now, as for your first point, just let me say this. What has caused the terrorist attack today in Turkey is not the President of the United States, is not the alliance between America and Britain. What is responsible for that terrorist attack is terrorism, are the terrorists. And our response has got to be to unify in that situation, to put the responsibility squarely on those who are killing and murdering innocent people, and to say, we are going to defeat you, and we’re not going to back down or flinch at all from this struggle. For all the reasons I’ve given you earlier, this is what this struggle is about.
And when you look — as you can see from the list of the people from 60 different nationalities who have died in terrorist attacks, and thousands of people from every religion, every part of the world, you aren’t going to stop these people by trying to compromise with them, by hesitating in the face of this menace. It’s defeat them, or be defeated by them. That’s what we’re going to do.