War on terror must go on, British report says

Blair outlines vision for dealing with today's global enemies, introduces new report detailing Britain's foreign policy.

blair 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
blair 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The United Kingdom needs to persevere in its fight against global terrorism and he remains optimistic that enemies such as al-Qaida can be defeated, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told his nation. "We should make a sustained effort with Islamic and international media and scholars using new voices and information... We need to understand better the links between extremist ideology originating abroad and how these ideas are spread in the UK," Blair said. At his monthly press conference on Tuesday, Blair outlined his vision for dealing with today's global enemies as well as introduced a new report detailing Britain's foreign policy. As part of the wide ranging policy report, Blair said the British government was active in pursuing the resolution of international disputes such as the Arab-Israeli conflict and listed milestones achieved under Blair's three terms as prime minister. These include the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, the establishment of a democratic Afghanistan and Libya's renouncement of weapons of mass destruction. "We believe our interests are best pursued in a world in which countries share progressive principles and values and in which governments work together peacefully on the basis of international law. That is why we have a foreign policy that is values-driven, activist and multi-lateralist," said Blair. "The British government recognizes that some of al-Qaida's main weapons are ideological and media-orientated," said Blair, and "in order to win this battle of ideas and values we need to expose distortions in their vision of the world as well as be more effective at telling the British side of the story and explaining its values," added the prime minister. In Britain this requires a structured government effort and effective leadership with Muslim communities as well as cooperation with third parties - such as faith groups - to counter extremism, said the report. The prime minister's report also suggests that Britain should develop dialogues with countries that have predominately Muslim populations and progressive leadership, such as Indonesia. Paramount to Britain's success, Blair maintained, is the necessity of building new strategic alliances by using its position in the European Union and its relationship with the US as a platform as well as reaching out to emerging new powers such as China, India, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico. Additionally, maintaining and strengthening current alliances - such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada - and nurturing new partnerships in the Middle East is also of utmost importance. The challenge that has arisen today from Islamist terrorism is "serious and complex", according to the report, which also added that "violent extremists overseas and in Britain are promoting interpretations of Islam which foster intolerance, segregation and radicalization." The report goes on to state that, like other major religions, Islam has a militant strand that is strongly condemned by the vast majority of Muslims, however, what is new is the success of al-Qaida in "co-opting these doctrinal messages into a political ideology with broad appeal and its skill in making a global impact through horrific acts of terrorism combined with modern communications techniques." "As well as being under direct threat of attack, the UK and societies all over the world are exposed to persistent hostile propaganda from al-Qaida and its sympathizers which sours international relations, attempts to undermine governments, creates community friction and drives terrorism by pushing a small minority of young people along the spectrum from radicalization to extremism and violence," said Blair.