One Struggle with Many Different Arenas - Interview with Tony Blair

(Ha'aretz) Adar Primor - Without a doubt, it was Iraq that ended his career at 10 Downing Street. Nevertheless, Tony Blair does not apologize. "It's really important to understand that Saddam was actually a threat to the region," he said in an interview with Ha'aretz during his most recent visit to Israel as the Quartet's special envoy. "And quite apart from anything else you may remember, he used to pay the families of [the Palestinian] suicide bombers." "Personally I think we will defeat this terrorism when we understand it is one battle, one struggle. This is a global movement with an ideology....People sometimes say to me, no, it's not really Iraq, it's Afghanistan. Someone else will say, no it's Pakistan, and someone else will say its...Yemen. But actually it's all of these because in different ways, they represent different challenges that are unified by one single movement with a single ideology." "This is going to be resolved, in my view, over a long period of time. But what is important is that wherever it is fighting us, we're prepared to fight back....In Iraq, what began as a fight to remove Saddam was over in two months, but then what occupied us for the next six years was fighting external elements - al-Qaeda on one hand, Iranian-backed militias on the other, which are the same elements we're fighting everywhere. Now, ultimately we've got to understand that, unfortunately, we can't say: 'Look, let's concentrate it here, but not here, and here, and here,' because that's not the way this thing's working." "Actually there is a unifying theme, in my view, between what's happened in countries like our own country with terrorist activity, and what's happening in places like Yemen or Afghanistan or Somalia or, I'm afraid, other countries. The key to understanding this is [that] this is a global movement with a global ideology and it is one struggle. It's one struggle with many different arenas." "My view has always been that the prime minister [of Israel] is prepared to make peace, provided it's on terms that guarantee Israel's security and is fair for Israelis. What I always say to people on the outside when I'm trying to explain this whole issue to them is, first of all, look at a map, you know, look at a map of the region, and then see what a small bit of land it is, Israel and the Palestinian territory. So if you can't deal with the on-the-ground worry of the Israelis about security, you can't make peace." "When in another 100 years they write a book about the history of the Middle East, Blair's name will proudly appear in it," says a high-ranking Israeli Foreign Ministry official. "He chose to deal with the micro, in areas that no one could imagine an international superstar of his caliber choosing to address. But he carried out all his missions. He took over projects that were going nowhere for years, accumulating dust [the sewage system in Gaza, tourism in Bethlehem, establishment of a second Palestinian cell-phone operator, among other things], and resuscitated them."

2010-01-08 08:43:22

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive