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Tony Blair: People Don’t Understand Radical Islam Is A ‘Generational-Long Struggle’

Just days after President Obama declared Operation Iraqi Freedom officially over, former Prime Minister Tony Blair is jumping into the media fray with his new memoir ‘A Journey: My Political Life.’ Blair’s memoir, which delves into his controversial decision to bring Britain into the Iraq War, hits bookstores just two months ahead of former President George W. Bush‘s memoir ‘Decision Points’ and the two should provide an interesting compare and contrast about the time period following September 11th and leading up to the decision to invade Iraq.

During an interview that aired on This Week this morning Blair told Christiane Amanpour that he had no regrets about invading Iraq, though “You can’t not have regrets about the lives lost. I mean, you would be inhuman if you didn’t regret the death of so many extraordinary, brave and committed soldiers, of civilians that have died in Iraq, or die still now in Afghanistan.”

Blair further reflected on the complexities of the the mid-East situation that he didn’t grasp at the time of 9/11:

But what I understand less clearly at that time was how deep this ideological movement is. — this is actually more like the phenomenon of revolutionary communism. It’s the religious or cultural equivalent of it, and its roots are deep, its tentacles are long, and its narrative about Islam stretches far further than we think into even parts of mainstream opinion who abhor the extremism, but sort of buy some of the rhetoric that goes with it.

And because of those roots we are looking at a conflict that will last much longer than an electoral cycle:

I think it’s perfectly sensible to set the deadline, provided it’s clear that, as it were, that is to get everyone focused on getting the job done. But in general terms, I think the answer to your question is no, I think a lot of people don’t understand that this is a generational-long struggle. and I think one of the things we’ve got to have and one of the debates we’ve got to have in the west is you know are we prepared for that, and are we prepared for the consequences of it?

Presumably “a lot of people” also includes the press which has a tendency to frame this issues in “horse race” midterms terms. Blair also reflected on Dick Cheney: “His world view was that the world had to be remade after September the 11th. But you can’t dismiss that Cheney view and say that’s stupid. It’s not. It may require amendment, you may disagree with it but…” And notes that “George W. Bush was very smart. He had an immense simplicity in how he saw the world. Right or wrong, it led to decisive leadership.” That sort of decisive leadership being something many people worry is missing in Obama’s presidency.

Watch the first half below. The second half, where Blair talks about his “soul mate” President Bill Clinton, as well as Princess Diana‘s death, can be found here.

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