9/11: U.S. partly to blame for attacks--Canadian PMgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
In TV interview, Chretien says perceived greed of the West an underlying cause By Tim Harper OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF
OTTAWA — The perceived greed of the Western world, including the United States, is one of the underlying causes of the horrific terrorist attacks of a year ago, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien says.
In an interview with CBC-TV, which aired last night, Chrétien said the unchecked greed of the West made it lose sight of the consequences of its actions 20 or 30 years into the future.
"I do think the Western world is getting too rich in relation to the poor world,'' Chrétien said.
"We're looked upon as being arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits.
"The 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more.''
Speakout: Do you agree with Chretien? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Power cannot be exercised to the point that it humiliates others, the Prime Minister said in the documentary, in which he also revealed he authorized a Korean passenger jet to be blown out of Canadian skies if it appeared bent on heading for Vancouver or Toronto the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001.
History is full of stories of power that was not curbed, Chrétien said.
"There is a moment when you have to stop, a moment when you are very powerful,'' he said.
Chrétien, who will speak to the United Nations in New York on Monday, said he made the same point once before to an audience of Wall Street magnates in New York who were complaining to him about Canada maintaining relations with Cuba.
"I said: `When you're powerful like you are, you guys, this is the time to be nice.' That's one of the problems. You cannot exercise your power to the point of humiliation for the others," Chrétien said.
"The Western world, not only the Americans, but the Western world has to realize because they are human beings, too.
"There are long-term consequences if you don't look hard at the reality in 10 or 20 or 30 years from now.''
The CBC documentary also shed new light on a tense landing of a Korean Air passenger jet in Whitehorse in the Yukon.
The plane was believed to have been hijacked and the drama unfolded only hours after four hijacked planes south of the border unleashed their carnage.
Chrétien said he knew he was faced with a decision that he might have to regret for the rest of his life. "If there is a plane, and they tell you there is a plane that can go and land in Toronto and kill thousands of people, you have no choice,'' he said. "So you say you have no choice, you have to do it. Of course, I would have been responsible for killing 300 people, but it's better ... you have no choice.''
The Korean 747, with 300 passengers aboard, had radioed that it had been hijacked.
Chrétien allowed American fighter pilots to trail the passenger jet because Canadian CF-18s based in Inuvik could not catch up to it.
The Prime Minister said he authorized the plane to be shot down if it showed any "hostile'' movements, but stipulated that the decision be made by him, not the U.S. pilots. American authorities refused to allow the plane to land in Alaska. They told Canadian NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence) Brig.-Gen Angus Watt that the plane was being diverted into Canadian airspace.
In the chaos of Sept. 11, it was feared the plane would head down the west coast toward Vancouver.
"They explained to me the situation. They could not communicate with this plane and they didn't know where it was going,'' Chrétien told the CBC's Peter Mansbridge. "So he (Watt) said `we might have to shoot it down.'
"And I said, `yes, if you think they are terrorists, I said, you call me again but be ready to shoot it down'
"So, I authorized it in principle, yes. It's kind of scary when you know this plane, with hundreds of people, and you have call a decision like that.''
The plane ultimately landed without incident in Whitehorse. The radio dispatch was blamed on language confusion.
Chrétien also told the CBC he feared for his own safety after the RCMP had told him not to leave his home at 24 Sussex Dr. "If they want to get me, it's easy,'' Chrétien said he thought at the time.
He told his wife Aline to leave the official residence and head to another residence at Harrington Lake.
Transport Minister David Collenette also revealed that in deciding to divert all Canadian air traffic to the east coast, he was concerned about keeping jets away from Toronto and Montreal because Ottawa had reports that as many as 12 hijacked jets could still be in the air. For a time, one of the potential hijacks was believed headed for Hamilton.
Collenette said he assumed other attacks were still planned and that the planes would not go back to New York, making a Canadian attack a possibility.
"I remember thinking a plane could be coming here,'' Collenette said.
Finance Minister John Manley, who was foreign affairs minister at the time, received the news aboard a commercial flight from Frankfurt to Toronto. He told the CBC he was informed of what had happened by Lufthansa flight attendants and his first fear was the possibility that terrorists had entered the United States from Canada.
-- Anonymous, September 12, 2002