Tony Blair challenged over Iraq War at Davos 2015

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Tony Blair has been challenged to accept his role in creating the current religious instability in the Middle East.

A question from the floor at the religion debate at Davos asked the former PM to reflect on what happened after he decided to go into war in Iraq.

I think your decision to go there with Mr Bush is a part of the problems we have with religion,the questioner said, telling Blair that:

I think you have a great responsibility for the conflicts we have now.

Some applause from the floor.

Blair replies:

You can have a debate on whether it’s the right or wrong decision.

But I’d also point out, and I think many people in Iraqi would agree, that Saddam Hussain wasn’t exactly a force for stability, peace and prosperity for his country, and was responsible for killing many many hundreds of thousands of people.

Blair then argues that religious extremism cannot all be blamed on the second Gulf war.

He points to extremism in France, which was opposed to the Iraq intervention.

Then you see what happens in Belgium [last week] what’s the reason for that? How about Nigeria, and Mali?

He cites Libya, where there is huge instability since Gaddafi was removed…And when we didn’t intervene in Syria, we have probably the worst situation.

And Blair then returns to his point from earlier, about the role of education:

My view is, you can debate the political decisions.. but at some point we’ve got to understand.

This extremism has grown up over a long period of time, over decades. Its roots are deep within a perversion of religion, a perversion of the religion of Islam.

I totally agree. If you’re sitting in Syria and Iraq today you need immediate measures, which is why I’d personally support intervention in those situations. And you need immediate relief from the terrorism that is engulfing your life.

But even if we were to defeat those extremist groups, you’d get other extremists groups, Blair continues. And groups starting in Europe, Africa, even in the far East.

At the end you have to deal with the root problem, which is educating people to a closed-minded view of the world, that says if you’re not like me you’re my enemy.

We have got to stop making excuses for those people…and start to tackle the fundamental incubation of that problem, which lies in formal and informal education systems educating young people to hatred to those who are different.

If you don’t deal with that, then we can debate the political issues forever, but we’ll never get the root of the problem, Blair concludes.

Source: The Guardian