Poverty, terrorism and 9/11

During his interview with the CBC, Stephen Harper was asked about comments Jean Chretien made nine years ago on the first anniversary of Sept. 11.

Nobody who was killed on 9/11 deserved it remotely. It was a terrible thing, has nothing to do with wealth versus poverty. It has to do with, in this case, a particular hateful ideology that has attacked people around the world, not just affluent societies like our own, but some pretty poor places. You know, I think the people killed in Indonesia, in India. The fact that Afghanistan became a failed state, where you know, people just essentially lived in not just poverty, but brutality, to the point where a kind of Islamic fascist regime literally invited terrorists, international terrorists to set up camp in their country. I think that that kind of situation obviously bred a threat, and that’s why we are so worried when we look around the world now at other places where the same thing could happen. You know, I think you know some of them: Somalia, Yemen, that are there or at that kind of stage. That’s the kind of thing I think we really have to worry about, where you have not just poverty, but poverty and literally lawlessness becomes the nature of the state. And I do think it’s in our broader interests and the right thing to do to try and help people and help countries so that they don’t get into that situation. That’s why, you know, we obviously are helping with the famine in East Africa. It’s why we’re so involved in Haiti. Not to have that kind of a state in our own backyard. So those, I think those kinds of situations are very dangerous.

Mr. Chretien’s comments, as reported by the Globe, were as follows.

“It’s always the problem when you read history — everybody doesn’t know when to stop. There’s a moment when you have to stop, there’s a moment when you are very powerful,” he said…

“I do think that the Western world is getting too rich in relations to the poor world,” he said. “And necessarily, we’re looked upon as being arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits. And the 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more.”

The Prime Minister said he was in New York prior to the terrorist attacks and heard complaints from Wall Street capitalists about Canadian economic ties to Cuba and other foreign-policy disagreements.

“I told them: When you are powerful like you are, you guys, it’s the time to be nice,” he said. “And it is one of the problems — you cannot exercise your powers to the point of humiliation of the others. And that is what the Western world — not only the Americans but the Western world — has to realize.”