Tony Blair is still dogmatically convinced that the Islamic jihadists are hijacking and twisting the true, peaceful Islam, and he shows no awareness of the classic theological and legal teachings that they can and do draw upon to justify their actions and make recruits among their fellow Muslims, but what he says here about the need to combat the ideology, and the ideological kinship among disparate jihad groups, is spot on.
Not that there aren’t other major problems with what he says here — see below.
“Tony Blair calls on world to wage war on militant Islam,” by Ruth Gledhill for the Times Online, April 23 (thanks to Sr. Soph):
[…] In an address last night to a forum on religion and politics in Chicago, Mr Blair said that the world today faced a struggle posed by “an extreme and misguided form of Islam”, which threatened the majority of Muslims as well as non-Muslims.
“Our job is simple: it is to support and partner those Muslims who believe deeply in Islam but also who believe in peaceful co-existence, in taking on and defeating the extremists who don’t.” […]
It would have been good of Mr. Blair to supply some names at this point, since there are so many who have the reputation of being moderate but are not in fact interested in “peaceful co-existence,” and the possibility of deception is so great. But no such luck.
“The case for the doctrine I advocated ten years ago remains as strong now as it was then,” he said, arguing that there was a link between the murders in Mumbai, the terror attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempts to destabilise countries such as Yemen, and the training camps of insurgents in Somalia.
“It is not one movement. There is no defined command and control. But there is a shared ideology. There are many links criss-crossing the map of Jihadist extremism. And there are elements in the leadership of a major country, namely Iran, that can support and succour its practitioners.”
Defending the Obama Administration’s attempts to engage with Iran, Mr Blair said: “The Iranian Government should not be able to claim that we have refused the opportunity for constructive dialogue, and the stature and importance of such an ancient and extraordinary civilisation means that as a nation, Iran should command respect and be accorded its proper place in the world’s affairs.” I hope this engagement succeeds.
They will claim that no matter what. Blair seems oblivious to how Obama’s hardline appeasement stance seems to have emboldened the mullahs and the Thug-In-Chief.
He argued that the purpose of such engagement should be clear and was about more than preventing Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability. “It is to put a stop to the Iranian regime’s policy of de-stabilisation and support of terrorism.”
Listing the conflicts across the world, from Israel through Iraq to the Philippines and Algeria, he said: ‘It is time to wrench ourselves out of a state of denial. There is one major factor in common. In each conflict there are those deeply engaged in it, who argue that they are fighting in the true name of Islam.”
Mr Blair said that the doctrinal roots of extremism could be traced back to the period in the late 19th and early 20th century where modernising and moderate clerics and thinkers were slowly but surely pushed aside by the hard-line dogma of those, whose cultural and theological credentials were often dubious, but whose appeal lay in the simplicity of the message that Islam had lost its way and departed from the “true faith”.
True enough, although those who made this claim could also point to jihads from before the 19th century that operated according to the same core beliefs as those they were advocating.
“The tragedy of this is that the authentic basis of Islam, as laid down in the Koran, is progressive, humanitarian, sees knowledge and scientific advance as a duty, which is why for centuries Islam was the fount of so much invention and innovation. Fundamental Islam is actually the opposite of what the extremists preach,” he said.
Even if scientific advance were indeed urged upon Muslims as a duty in the Qur’an, this would say nothing about the jihad and Islamic supremacism that are also taught in the Qur’an. The “extremists,” in fact, are not against “knowledge and scientific advance.” They are not Amish with AK-47’s. They make use, in fact, of the most sophisticated technology in their jihad.
He welcomed President Obama’s reaching out to the Muslim world at the start of a new American Administration but warned that it would expose “the delusion of believing that there is any alternative to waging this struggle to its conclusion”.
“But the ideology, as a movement within Islam, has to be defeated. It is incompatible not with ‘the West’ but with any society of open and tolerant people and that in particular means the many open and tolerant Muslims.”
He had moved on from believing that the removal of a despotic regime was sufficient to create the condition for progress.
“This battle cannot so easily be won. Because it is based on an ideology and because its roots are deep, so our strategy for victory has to be broader, more comprehensive but also more sharply defined.”…
Indeed it does.