Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tony Blair: Why We Fight On

The first of three speeches Blair intends to give over the next few weeks on Foreign Affairs. I'm tired but a couple of good paragraphs.

The thesis and how it has, confusingly for some, split apart the traditional left and right:
The basic thesis is that the defining characteristic of today's world is its interdependence; that whereas the economics of globalisation are well matured, the politics of globalisation are not; and that unless we articulate a common global policy based on common values, we risk chaos threatening our stability, economic and political, through letting extremism, conflict or injustice go unchecked.

The consequence of this thesis is a policy of engagement not isolation; and one that is active not reactive.

Confusingly, its proponents and opponents come from all sides of the political spectrum. So it is apparently a "neo-conservative" ie right wing view, to be ardently in favour of spreading democracy round the world; whilst others on the right take the view that this is dangerous and deluded - the only thing that matters is an immediate view of national interest. Some progressives see intervention as humanitarian and necessary; others take the view that provided dictators don't threaten our citizens directly, what they do with their own, is up to them.
The ideological struggle,
This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don't mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd; their concept of governance pre-feudal; their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive; and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran.

But in order to do this, we must reject the thought that somehow we are the authors of our own distress; that if only we altered this decision or that, the extremism would fade away. The only way to win is: to recognise this phenomenon is a global ideology; to see all areas, in which it operates, as linked; and to defeat it by values and ideas set in opposition to those of the terrorists.
His conclusion,
This is, ultimately, a battle about modernity. Some of it can only be conducted and won within Islam itself. But don't let us in our desire not to speak of what we can only imperfectly understand; or our wish not to trespass on sensitive feelings, end up accepting the premise of the very people fighting us.

The extremism is not the true voice of Islam. Neither is that voice necessarily to be found in those who are from one part only of Islamic thought, however assertively that voice makes itself heard. It is, as ever, to be found in the calm, but too often unheard beliefs of the many Muslims, millions of them the world over, including in Europe, who want what we all want: to be ourselves free and for others to be free also; who regard tolerance as a virtue and respect for the faith of others as part of our own faith. That is what this battle is about, within Islam and outside of it; it is a battle of values and progress; and therefore it is one we must win.
But it all needs to be read because I think it's Blair who will be the hero of this decade.

2 comments:

donchicago48 said...

"and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran."

Sadly, Tony Blair dangerously tries to delude himself and us. His claim that the Jihadists behaviour is "contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran." is simply false on its face. On the contrary, the Jihadists behaviour is DIRECTLY a result of the "spirit and teaching of the Koran." and the Islamic Hadiths (traditions). This is the oft-repeated notion that 'some tiny minority of extremists' have hijacked the so-called religion of peace. In reality, the Quran is filled with teachings of hatred, intolerance, and incitement to violent Jihad. it should come as no surprise whatever when muslims act out the instructions they consider sacred.

Bill Baar said...

You might find this MEMRI translation interesting then Don:

Reformist Writer Dr. Kamel Al-Najjar: "If the Muslims are Serious About Presenting the Radiant Face of Islam… They Must… Acknowledge Their Dark Past"

In January 2006, the Austrian-Iraqi Association for Development held its first conference on extremism and terrorism around the world, in Vienna. The conference was attended by Arab, Muslim and European researchers, intellectuals and diplomats. In the closing statement, the participants made the following recommendations: to present the humane and rational side of Islam which calls for co-existence and acceptance of the other; to condemn all forms of violence and terrorism; to promote dialogue and cooperation among all the world's cultures; and to call upon religious scholars to halt the spread of extremism. The participants also emphasized the Palestinian people's right to an independent state, and called to consolidate Iraqi national unity based on citizenship, democracy, and peaceful co-existence between all sectors of Iraqi society, while preserving the country's Arab and Islamic character.(1)

Dr. Kamel Al-Najjar, a reformist who writes on the reformist websites www.kitabat.com and www.elaph.com, expressed reservations regarding the validity of these recommendations.(2)