The Purpose of Engaging Iran

[Office of Tony Blair] Tony Blair - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on April 22: Ten years ago I set out what I described as a doctrine of international community that sought to justify intervention, including if necessary military intervention, not only when a nation's interests are directly engaged, but also where there exists a humanitarian crisis or gross oppression of a civilian population. Should we now revert to a more traditional foreign policy, less bold, more cautious; less idealistic, more pragmatic, more willing to tolerate the intolerable because of fear of the unpredictable consequences that intervention can bring? My argument is that the case for the doctrine I advocated ten years ago remains as strong now as it was then. The struggle faced by the world, including the majority of Muslims, is posed by an extreme and misguided form of Islam. 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. But it can't be done without our active and wholehearted participation. There is a link between the murders in Mumbai, the terror attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempts to destabilize countries like Yemen, and the training camps of insurgents in Somalia. 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 succor its practitioners. Engaging with Iran is entirely sensible. The Iranian government should not be able to claim that we have refused the opportunity for constructive dialogue. The purpose of such engagement should, however, be clear. It is to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capability, but it is more than that. It is to put a stop to the Iranian regime's policy of destabilization and support of terrorism.

2009-04-27 06:00:00

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