How to Defeat Islamic State

(Sunday Times-UK-The Australian) Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair - The attacks in Belgium were shocking. Unfortunately the attacks are going to keep coming. If you have no compunction about killing wholly innocent civilians and are prepared to die in the act of doing so, societies like ours offer vast possibilities of vulnerability. This threat is global. We require a fundamental change of strategy if we are to defeat it. Otherwise, we will have periodic but increasingly frequent acts of terrorism that will result in many more victims and start to destabilize our political and social cohesion. Eventually the terrorists will commit an act of such size and horror that we will change our posture; but by then the battle will be much harder to win without measures that contradict our basic value system. The threat is not simply the acts of violence, but the ideology of extremism that gives rise to them. Confront only the violence and fail to confront the ideology and we fail. There has been a very deliberate decision to describe the challenge as "countering violent extremism." The risk is we leave the roots untouched. Islam as practiced and understood by a majority of the world's Muslims is an honorable and peaceful faith. But over the past half-century there has developed a narrative within Islam which has changed the character of its interaction with those of different faiths, and is fundamentally incompatible with the modern world. The reality is that the adherents of this view of Islam are numbered in many millions, have, in some countries, elements of official support, and are systematically teaching it to millions of young people across the world. This ideology is not interested in coexistence. It does not seek dialogue but dominance. It cannot therefore be contained. It has to be defeated. Many Muslims are speaking out and as they do, others gain confidence and follow; because the majority of Muslims hate the way their faith has been hijacked. And never forget the majority of terrorist victims are Muslim. We have to realize who are our allies and stand with them. The Arab nations of the region have to know we are with them in the fight against extremism. Saudi Arabia is our ally. Egypt is our ally. Israel also is our ally. The Palestinian issue remains of huge importance and it should be our priority to find a way to a viable Palestinian state next to a secure State of Israel. But Israel's security is our security. Longer term, we must build military capability able to confront and defeat the terrorists wherever they try to hold territory. Ground forces are necessary to win this fight and ours are the most capable.

2016-03-28 00:00:00

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