Military action in Afghanistan

Gavin Strang’s speech to local Labour Party

Gavin Strang MP tonight addressed a meeting of the East Edinburgh & Musselburgh Constituency Labour Party.

Extracts of Gavin Strang’s speech follow:

‘The enormity of the situation before us is almost impossible to comprehend.
‘The fact that terrorists were able to carry out the atrocities that killed 6,000 people on 11 September is a terrifying demonstration of the power that a malign organisation can wield.

‘And I am convinced that the perpetrators of the atrocities on 11 September will not have been intending to stop there. They will continue to carry out further acts of terror until they are stopped – and if they can kill even more people in the process, they will do so.

‘It is vital, therefore, that the terrorists are stopped.

‘That is why I believe that the current military action is self-defence – and it is legitimate under Article 51 of the UN Charter and the Resolutions that the UN Security council have adopted since 11 September.

‘There would appear to be compelling evidence that the terrorist organisation responsible for 11 September is based in Afghanistan and that the Taliban regime is supporting it. I believe that it is therefore appropriate that the US and allies take action to disable terrorist bases and Afghan military installations that could provide cover for terrorists.

‘I have not come to this view lightly. The consequences of the current military action will not be straightforward – there will be civilian casualties, there will be reprisals, and there will be unease in many countries.

‘If I thought that we could prevent further terror solely by other means – diplomatic, political or economic – without military action, I would be calling for today’s military action to be stopped. But while diplomatic, political and economic efforts are vital – as is a massive humanitarian programme – I accept the need for military action.

‘Today’s crisis offers opportunities as well as problems. The international coalition that has formed since 11 September has tremendous potential. Countries like China, Russia and the US working together gives us a great opportunity to make progress not only in combating international terrorism, but also in tackling the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the availability of weapons of mass destruction.

‘The current crisis has drawn to people’s attention the availability of weapons of mass destruction – chemical, biological and nuclear. Current security arrangements leave a lot to be desired. There must now be a renewed international initiative to combat that threat.’