Small Wars Journal

New Global Strategy Needed to Fight Extremism, Britain's Blair Says

New Global Strategy Needed to Fight Extremism, Britain's Blair Says

Rikar Hussein - VOA News

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Thursday that the current global approach in the fight against Islamist terrorism adopted since the 9/11 attacks has failed. A more complex strategy is needed, he said.

"The essence of my message today is to say that when you look at the scale and the scope of this problem, without combating the ideology and the ideas, you will never defeat the extremism," Blair said during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, where he introduced the findings of a report by his Institute for Global Change.

"Security measures obviously have in many ways been effective and must remain in place. But the reality is security alone will only slow the violence," Blair said.

The report, Global Extremism Monitor: Violent Extremism in 2017, found that despite counterterrorism efforts to defeat Islamist extremists militarily, the challenge has proliferated over the years. And, there was an increase in the number of terror groups in 2017.

Ideology

The report claimed that ideology is the most influential tool for the global jihadi movement. The ultimate solution, according to the report, requires fighting the ideas that underpin extremist violence.

"The reason why it's so important to focus on the ideas and the roots of this violence is that presently, the world collectively spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year on additional security, airport protection, counterterrorism. It spends a small fraction of that on soft power measures that tackle the underlining ideology," Blair said.

The former prime minister has faced harsh criticism for his role in leading Britain into the 2003 Iraq war. He has admitted in the past that the invasion can partly be blamed for the rise of Islamic State group in the country.

Blair said the international community needed to address the radical ideology — first, by promoting education in Islamic countries to prevent "pollution of mind"; second, by engaging more effectively with young Muslims; third, by supporting Muslim community leaders who reject violence; and finally, by helping fragile states address their governance and economic issues.

9/11 Attacks

The warning from Blair comes on the heels of the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States in which nearly 3,000 people were killed. The attack was the deadliest foreign attack on U.S. soil.

A congressionally mandated, bipartisan report on the anniversary of the attack, Beyond the Homeland: Protecting America from Extremism in Fragile States, said terrorists staged five times as many attacks in 2017 — 10,900 attacks worldwide — as in 2001, and that Islamic extremism has been on the rise.

The report, issued by the U.S. Institute of Peace, said the U.S. should apply a new strategy of prioritizing the stabilization of fragile countries of the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, where groups like IS and al-Qaida can establish a foothold.

Comments

In the second to last paragraph of our article above, our author references the congressionally mandated, bipartisan report on the anniversary of the 9/11 attack; this such report being Beyond the Homeland: Protecting America from Extremism in Fragile States, which noted that "terrorists staged five times as many attacks in 2017 — 10,900 attacks worldwide — as in 2001, and that Islamic extremism has been on the rise."

In this regard, consider the following from said report -- which appears to suggest THE cause of Islamic (and, indeed, all other?) extremism: 

BEGIN QUOTE

Extremism emerges through the confluence of poor and undemocratic governance in fragile states and extremist ideology and organization.

END QUOTE

Question:

Was this argument made back in Old Cold War days; when, in our eyes back then, we saw the Afghans (et. al?) -- quite properly, honorably and understandably(?) -- using extremism as a means/method of resisting unwanted transformation; in this case, resisting unwanted transformation more along alien and profane communist political, economic, social and/or value lines?  [In this regard, see my "The Islamists -- in Afghanistan and Elsewhere -- Versus the Secular Soviets/the Communists (cir: 1980)" example provided in my comment below.]

Use of the word "extremism" rather than "Islamic terrorism" indicates that politicians and policy makers are unwilling or unable to wrap their heads around the nature of Islam.

Note:  

Prior to disagreeing with my argument below, might I ask that you:

a.  First read the Small War Journal-offered article immediately under this one, to wit: the article entitled: "SIGAR: USAID’s Largest Program for Afghan Women Is Falling Short by Jessica Donati – Wall Street Journal.  And then:

b.  Compare this to my "The Islamists -- in Afghanistan and elsewhere -- versus the secular Soviets/the communists in the 1980s" example; which is offered at my initial comment above.    

From our article above -- former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking here:

"The reason why it's so important to focus on the ideas and the roots of this violence is that presently, the world collectively spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year on additional security, airport protection, counterterrorism. It spends a small fraction of that on soft power measures that tackle the underlining ideology," Blair said.

Re: the ideas and the roots of violent extremism, in both of the examples that I provide below (and in the current U.S./Western case in the Greater Middle East also?), should we agree that IT IS NOT so much a problem of things such as ideology, lack of democracy, poverty, etc., that drive radical, violent extremism?

Rather, as the examples I provide below seem to illustrate, radical violent extremism, in fact, would seem to be more correctly traced to (a) attempts made by foreign great powers (b) to transform other other states and societies more along their (the foreign great power's) alien and profane political, economic, social and/ or value lines.  THIS, in fact, seeming to be THE properly understood "root cause" of violent extremism -- both yesterday and today?

The Jewish Zealots versus the Pagan Romans:

"Zealot: A member of a Jewish sect noted for its uncompromising opposition to pagan Rome and the polytheism it professed. The Zealots were an aggressive political party whose concern for the national and religious life of the Jewish people led them to despise even Jews who sought peace and conciliation with the Roman authorities. A census of Galilee ordered by Rome in AD 6 spurred the Zealots to rally the populace to noncompliance on the grounds that agreement was an implicit acknowledgment by Jews of the right of pagans to rule their nation. Extremists among the Zealots turned to terrorism and assassination and became known as Sicarii (Greek sikarioi, “dagger men”). They frequented public places with hidden daggers to strike down persons friendly to Rome. In the first revolt against Rome (ad 66–70) the Zealots played a leading role, and at Masada in 73 they committed suicide rather than surrender the fortress, but they were still a force to be reckoned with in the first part of the following century. A few scholars see a possible relationship between the Zealots and the Jewish religious community mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls."

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Zealot

The Islamists -- in Afghanistan and elsewhere -- versus the secular Soviets/the communists in the 1980s:

"The overt attack on Afghan social values was presented, by the resistance forces, as an attack on Islamic values. This was also seen as an attack on the honor of women. The initiatives introduced by PDPA -- to impose literacy on women and girls -- inevitably raised questions as to the potential role of women outside the the home. This provoked defensive actions from men, concerned with protecting the honor of women with their families, and to also ensure that traditional roles of women within the domestic sphere continued to be performed. It also generated fears that the important roles of women, as the primary vehicles for passing traditional and Islamic values from one generation to another, would be undermined if they were exposed to external and, particularly, non-Islamic values. This enabled the exiled radical Islamic parties to claim leadership of the resistance and to also declare a jihad."

https://books.google.com/books?id=YeYBAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA58&lpg=PA58&dq=The+

Thus, it would seem that only if we adopt the position that the ideology of our Islamic opponents in the present day -- much like the ideology of our communists opponents in days past -- that these such ideologies stand in the way of U.S./Western efforts to transform other states and societies more along modern western lines,

It is only as per this such argument, should we agree, that a case against Islamic ideology -- much like the case against communist ideology -- might be made?