Monday, April 28, 2014

Tony Blair: Threat of Radical Islam not Abating

Tony Blair
The Spectator

Former Prime Minister of England Tony Blair gave a speech recently on the continuing, still growing threat of Islamism, and the complete transcript is available on The Spectator website at "Full text: Tony Blair's speech on why the Middle East matters" (April 23, 2014). I'll merely call attention to a few main points:
[T]he Middle East matters. What is presently happening there, still represents the biggest threat to global security of the early 21st C. The region, including the wider area outside its conventional boundary -- Pakistan, Afghanistan to the east and North Africa to the west -- is in turmoil with no end in sight to the upheaval and any number of potential outcomes from the mildly optimistic to catastrophe.

At the root of the crisis lies a radicalised and politicised view of Islam . . . . The threat of this radical Islam is not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world. It is de-stabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation. And in the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effectively.

In this speech I will set out how we should do this, including the recognition that on this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and cooperate with the East, and in particular, Russia and China.
Blair goes on to offer reasons the Middle East matters to Europe (and the world), among them, energy, proximity to Europe, and alliances with Israel, and also because "the Middle East . . . [is where] the future of Islam will be decided." Why? Because:
The reason this matters so much is that this ideology is exported around the world. The Middle East is still the epicentre of thought and theology in Islam.
I agree that this is why the Middle East still matters, and I'd also like to see cooperation on this issue with Russia and China, but those two behemoths distrust the West so much that they might not have it in them to cooperate. On that, we will just have to see what the future holds, but things look dire in our future if we fail to recognize something obvious, the fact of religious violence on Islam's part:
[There] is the absolutely rooted desire on the part of Western commentators to analyse these issues as disparate rather than united by common elements. They go to extraordinary lengths to say why, in every individual case, there are multiple reasons for understanding that this is not really about Islam, it is not really about religion; there are local or historic reasons which explain what is happening. There is a wish to eliminate the obvious common factor in a way that is almost wilful. Now of course as I have said, there is always a context that is unique to each situation. There will naturally be a host of local factors that play a part in creating the issue. But it is bizarre to ignore the fact the principal actors in all situations, express themselves through the medium of religious identity or that in ideological terms, there is a powerful unifying factor based on a particular world view of religion and its place in politics and society.
Exactly! And we are in a real war with Islamism:
This is not a conventional war. It isn't a struggle between super powers or over territory. But it is real. It is fearsome in its impact. It is growing in its reach. It is a battle about belief and about modernity.
You might not be interested in this war, but this war is decidedly interested in you . . .



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