Tony Blair delivered an excellent talk related to the Middle East. It was highlighted and commented on by Melanie Phillips in the Spectator here.
Mr Blair warned that it was impossible to defeat extremism ”without defeating the narrative that nurtures it”. Moderate Muslims who believed in co-existence and tolerance were, he said, being undermined by the unwillingness of the West to take on the extremists’ arguments. ”We think if we sympathise with the narrative – that essentially this extremism has arisen as a result, partly, of our actions – we meet it halfway, we help the modernisers to be more persuasive,” he said. ”We don’t. We indulge it and we weaken them. Worse, a reaction springs up amongst our people that we are pandering to this narrative and they start to resent Muslims as a whole.”
The readers comments were insightful and included “”Blair’s wake-up call will not be heeded in this country (U.K), where he is hated by a large section of the population. However, Blair is still a formidable presence on the world stage outside the UK, and his warnings will be widely heard. More elder statesmen – who no longer have Muslim constituencies to appease – should follow Blair’s lead and speak out.”
Here is Blair’s presentation to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The talk is well worth listening to, including the Blair-Satloff discussion that follows. Blair is impressive, whether or not you fully agree with what he is saying! His effort to assist Fayad and the Palestinians to build their economy and governance from the bottom up is one of the positive aspects.