UK former Prime Minister Tony Blair has penned a seven-point assessment of what he calls “the issue of our time”: the threat of Islamic extremism.
Blair’s essay, posted Sept. 22 on the website of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, has attracted attention for its acknowledgment that Western ground forces likely will be needed to defeat the so-called Islamic State. “There is no solution,” he writes, “that doesn’t involve force applied with a willingness to take casualties in carrying the fight through to the end.”
Blair argues that the “fringe” of militant Islamism, requiring a military response, is only the most obvious threat. Equally troubling, he says, is the other end of the “spectrum” of Islamic thought. Taught daily to tens of millions of Muslims, he says, it is Islamic instruction that is nonviolent but which promotes “a belief in religious exclusivity not merely in spiritual but in temporal terms; a desire to re-shape society according to a set of social and political norms, based on religious belief about Islam, wholly at odds with the way the rest of the world has developed.”
Such teaching, Blair writes, provides “oxygen” to the militant fringe, and must be confronted by aggressive global diplomacy and what he calls the numerous but unorganised “modern elements” of Islam. He calls it “the work of a generation, not an election cycle.”
The essay, at more than 6,600 words, is a full meal, defying effective summarization here. Read it all here.