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The former British Prime Minister, who, along with then-US President George W Bush, initiated military action in Iraq in 2003, compared Islamism to revolutionary communism and said that it had to be faced by attacking ideology with stricter security measures.
Tony Blair appeared at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London on Monday to mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
He spoke about the roots of Islamist extremism, focusing on the current situation in Afghanistan. Blair has said radical Islam is a major threat to international security with consequences similar to those of September 11.
“Is Islamism a problem, or only its manifestation in violent extremism? Is it akin to revolutionary communism and should it be countered by a combination of long-term security and ideological measures; or is it to overestimate it, overestimate it and therefore perversely, as some would argue through the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, to increase its appeal rather than decrease it? Blair asked.
Major powers should unite, including Russia and China, to counter extremist ideology, Blair concluded.
“Our best allies are in many Muslim countries, including the Middle East, desperate to pull their religion out of extremism,” Blair said.
The end of the 20-year US intervention in Afghanistan reflected the current “overwhelming political constraint on military interventions” and an aversion to loss within their armed forces.
Blair, who sent troops to Afghanistan 20 years ago, argued, however, that “if the enemy we fight knows that the more casualties they inflict, the more our political will to fight is eroded, then the incentive structure is simple.
The former British Prime Minister seemed convinced that the “overhaul” of Afghanistan – like other countries “from which terrorist threats may arise” – by the West has not failed “because the people did not want to not that the country is remade “.
“Of course we could have done better, but the Afghans did not choose the Taliban makeover,” he added.
With the United States out of sight in Afghanistan, it is now necessary for Europe and NATO to defend themselves more effectively, argued Blair. He compared the situation to the end of the Kosovo war when he initiated a military partnership with France in 1999 to manage future international crises independently of the United States.
“After Kosovo, I initiated Defense Europe with France. I did this precisely because I realized that without the United States and President Clinton’s commitment, we would never have been able to resolve the crisis. And today the Balkans … can aspire to a peaceful future, hopefully, within Europe. Yet the crisis was at the gates of Europe and not America.
Blair further asked, “How do Europe and NATO develop the capacity to act when America is unwilling to do so?”
Although he offered no solution, Blair said he was alarmed by “the feeling that the West lacks the capacity to formulate a strategy.”
“Maybe my generation of leaders was naive in thinking that countries could be ‘remade’. Or maybe the “redesign” had to take longer. But we must never forget, as we see Afghan women in the media … now fleeing for fear of their lives, that our values are always those that free people choose. Regaining confidence in our values and their universal application is a necessary condition to ensure that we defend them and that we are ready to defend them, ”he concluded.