“Radical Islam” continues to represent a “first-order security threat” 20 years after the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, Tony Blair has warned. He also didn’t rule out putting boots on the ground in Afghanistan again.
In a speech to the Royal United Services Institute military think tank, he said there was a danger extremist terror groups could develop biological weapons.
“In my view, Islamism, both the ideology and the violence, is a first order security threat; and, unchecked, it will come to us, even if centred far from us, as 9/11 demonstrated,” he said.
“Like revolutionary communism, it operates in many different arenas and dimensions; and like it, its defeat will come ultimately through confronting both the violence and the ideology, by a combination of hard and soft power.”
The former prime minister said while initial efforts to counter the threat would inevitably centre on Western nations, it was important to bring in Russia and China as well Muslim countries which opposed the extremists.
He said it represented a particular challenge to European nations given that it was now clear following the withdrawal from Afghanistan that the US had “a very limited appetite for military engagement”.
Boots on ground
Blair said that a strategy based on responding to direct terrorist attacks through drone strikes and special forces had “limitations”.
While he said there would always be a need for “boots on the ground”, Western nations had become “deeply adverse” to casualties among their own armed forces.
“This is not a problem of the armed forces themselves, who are brave and extraordinary people.
“But it is now an overwhelming political constraint to any commitment to Western boots on the ground, except for special forces,” he said.
“Yet the problem this gives rise to, is obvious: if the enemy we’re fighting knows that the more casualties they inflict, the more our political will erodes, then the incentive structure is plain.”
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair says “maybe my generation of leaders were naive in thinking countries could be remade” but adds the values of the West are still those “that free people choose”.— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 6, 2021
Get the latest on Afghanistan: https://t.co/zvOADUCsnY pic.twitter.com/dEfG2ZclAK
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